Saturday, 31 October 2015

It's all downhill from here

I may have (or may not have) solved a mystery involving certain brands of DGT clocks. At Street Chess the DGT Easy and Easy+ models sometimes suffered from a defect where even after pushing the lever, a players time continued to run down. It didn't happen with all the clocks, but it happened often enough so that players simply did not trust them.
What was particularly annoying was that when we tested them elsewhere, they seemed to work fine. Some had been used at other clubs without problem, but at Street Chess they seemed to misbehave. So what was it about Street Chess that was different?
Now it turns out there are a few things that a different (outdoor play, fast time controls etc), but one thing I had not previously considered is that we play on a slope! Not a steep slope. but the tables ar off level by 1 to 3 degrees. And this has me wondering whether the switch mechanisms in the clock do not operate properly under those circumstances. Even after being pressed the lever may tilt back just enough to restart the first players clock, and robbing them of their time. Further investigation is still be done, but if it turns out to be the cause, it will be spirit levels front and centre.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Monopoly player gets arrested - 'get out of jail free' puns abound

Some chess players are notorious for having bad tempers, although I assume the ratio of angry chess players is no better or worse than the ratio of angry people in society. There have of course been occasions where games have resulted in violence (eg at the Doeberl Cup some years back), so it is always interesting when similar incidents happen in similar (but non-chess) environments.
For example, a monopoly player has been arrested for starting a brawl at a Monopoly tournament in the United States. In a scenario that chess organisers might be able to sympathise with, the player concerned had previous 'form', including being expelled from the previous years event. Despite being asked no to attend, the player turned up anyway, and predictably, trouble ensued.
Oddly, when tracking down the link for this event (using the search teams 'monopoly player arrested') I came across a number of other cases where playing Monopoly lead to trouble. In a few cases knives were involved, although the most hilarious case involved a game of 'strip monopoly' getting out of hand, with a jealous girlfriend landing one on a fellow player who was making eyes at her boyfriend.
So while chess isn't perfect in the behaviour stakes, it is at least good to know we aren't alone with the crazy!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The earliest Greek Gift

The 5th round of the 2015 ANU Chess Club's Spring Swiss saw a brevity in one of the games. White was checkmated on move 16 (unfortunately for him), but what gave the game a particular interest was that Black sacrificed his bishop on h2 as early as move 7. The sacrifice (known as the Greek Gift) was entirely sound, and after the game the winning player and myself went searching for games where the sacrifice occurred earlier.
Theoretically, the earliest it can occur (for Black) is on move 4, as White needs 4 moves to castle. However my attempts to construct a game where this happens (eg 1.e4 e6 2.Bc4 Bd6 3.Ne2 Nf6 4. O-O Bxh2+) just leads to White getting a better position, as White can defend by bringing the king to g3.
Our searching turned up lots of games where Bxh2+ was not a real sacrifice, as White has a bishop on g5. There were also games where Black sacrificed and lost, so we discarded those games as well. In the end we found one game where Black sac'ed on move 6, but that was about it. So the following game goes very close to equalling a record, missing out by 1 move.

Jochimsen,Erik - Litchfield,Fred [D00]
ANU Spring Swiss, 28.10.2015

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Bike chess?

I've been doing a lot of riding recently, so a story about "Bike" chess attracted my attention. It was one of a couple of variants tried during the Hoogeveen tournament in The Netherlands last week. Loek van Wely and Jorden van Foorest played each other while riding stationary bikes. Now I am not sure what the rules of "Bike" chess are (and the article on doesn't explain), but if the actual riding doesn't affect the play, then I am missing the point. One suggestion in the comments to the article was that the faster you ride, the less your time goes down, which does make sense to me. Just like chess boxing (or 'round the house' chess) there would be a trade-off between not tiring yourself out, and gaining an advantage via physical means.
The other form of "bike" chess that I would one day like to see is cyclists in one of the grand tours (eg The Tour de France) playing blindfold chess in the peleton. I am sure that there would be more than a few professional cyclists who are chess players, and a game of blindfold chess (with the players shouting the moves to each other), would help break up the monotony of staring at the bottom of the cyclist in front of you.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

One dimensional chess

There have been a lot of attempts at designing 3 dimensional chess, but what about going the other way. There is at least 1 version of 1-D chess, played on a ring, as well as variations on a theme, where the boards are almost 1-D.
I'm not sure how playable such games are, although the rules seem to make sense. There is no queen (doesn't quite fit, although it could still be R+B), and the knight seems crippled. On the other hand the bishop moves are logical.
One test is to get two 1-D chess engines to play each other and see what sort of games occur. If there is an obvious winning strategy (or the games look stupid) then it is of course a bust!
If you are interested in giving 1-D chess a try then the rules for each of these games can be found here.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Bilbao Masters 2015

The 2015 Bilbao Masters begins tomorrow, following its recent format of a 4 player double round robin. While initially set up as final for the Grand Slam series of chess events, these days it is simply a very strong Super GM event. This years edition features Anand, Giri, So and Ding. Despite being the oldest player in the tournament, Anand is the top seed, although at this level, ratings seem to matter less.
While the invite list may have changed, the tournament is still sticking to some other traditions. It is using the 3-1-0 scoring system, and draws can only be agreed with the permission of the arbiter. The rate of play is also a kind of fast/slow hybrid, with 40 moves in 90 minutes (fast-ish), followed by 60 minutes (a larger than normal bonus), with a 10 second increment from move 41 (a fast increment).
Live coverage of the event is at the tournament website, although with only 6 rounds on offer, blink and you may miss it.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Another non-trap claims a victim

One of the regular complaints about Correspondence Chess is that 'everyone uses a computer'. Now this is of course not true (the 'everyone' bit that is), but the use of engines is reasonably common, at the international level.
However there are times when clearly this is not the case, as shown in the following game. It is from a recent ICCF event, although I have removed the names of the players as the game in question is not publicly visible yet .
At first glance Black has walked into a trap, with 11. ... Ke7 leads to 12.Qxd8+ Kxd8 13.Rd1+ Ke7 14.Nxa8 with a clear advantage. I assume Black saw this and resigned. However if Black is brave and plays 11. ... Qxc7 12.Bxc7 bxa1(Q) 13.Qxa1 Black has a RBNP for a Q and is not that badly off. I again assume that Black just did not look at this line, indicating an all too human failing of not looking at *all* checks and captures!

White - Black [A33]

Friday, 23 October 2015

Someone still loves you Nick

The 2015 ACT Secondary Schools Open Teams Championship ended in a run away victory for the Lyneham High School Team. There score of 27 points from 28 games showed the depth of the team, with all 4 boards being fairly high rated (and experienced) players. They finished 7 points ahead of the second placed team from Radford, with Canberra Grammar finishing third.
It was an enjoyable days chess, and by the looks of it, everyone had a good time. But the real highlight of the day for me was the choice of name of one of the other Radford teams. Taking a cue from this recent story, they decided to salute a sports star who previously attended their school. To the players who fronted up as "Radford Kyrgios" I say, well played!

The anti-corruption broom begins to sweep through FIDE

Former World Champion Garry Kasparov and Former FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong, have been hit with a two year ban from activities related to chess administration, over their conduct in last years FIDE election. The ban was handed down by the FIDE Ethics Commission, who had found them guilty of breaches of the FIDE Code of Ethics a few weeks earlier. The case concerned a contract between Kasparov and Leong which in part listed a set of payments in return for Leong securing votes for Kasparov in the 2014 FIDE elections.
Opinion on this verdict is of course divided, mirroring last years election. Comments on have not been flattering to FIDE (which is to be expected). On the other hand a few people have defended the decision, arguing the evidence is pretty straight forward.
Of course this could be the start of a wider investigation of alleged corruption around FIDE. With FIFA in the spotlight it may be the case that FIDE wants to get its own house in order before external investigators start sniffing around.
Or it may not.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

And on board 3 we have ...

The European Club Championship is currently running in Skopje, Macedonia, and once again sees a number of phenomenaly strong teams taking part. Perennial favourites for this event, SOCAR, have found a spot for Fabiano Caruana on Board 3(!), behind Topalov and Giri. But he won't be lonely there because (as GM David Smerdon has pointed out), he will be fighting for the board 3 prize with Nakamura, Grischuk and Jakovenko.
At the other end of the tournament are the more 'journeyman' teams, including the team I support, White Rose (ENG). Seeded 34th (out of 50) they do have 1 GM and 2 IM's playing for them, and while they may terrorise some of the lower ranked teams, top board glory will probably elude them for another year.
Full results from the tournament can be found at while the tournament web page is here.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

If you think one rook pawn is bad

Continuing my recent theme of tough endings, here is a position that occurred last night at the Belconnen Chess Club. White had earlier won a piece with a pawn promotion tactic, but Black had made the ensuing ending as difficult as possible. In the diagrammed position, White had just played c5 to try and get the Black king away from the pawns.
Even though White is a piece up, the win is a little tricky, and in the end White failed by a single tempo to achieve it.  Despite the widely separated pawns on the board, once the bishop left the board, Black had just enough time to either trap the White king on the h file, or capture the h pawn and trap the king on the a file (which is what happened).  It turns out the missing tempo wasn't some clever zugzwang idea with the bishop, but simply by pushing the h pawn, before taking on f4. However by the time this position was reached it was almost midnight, and with both players close to zeitnot such a miss, while unfortunate, is understandable.
The moves from this position (with some analysis tossed in) were:  1...e3+ [1...f3 2.Bxf3 exf3 3.c6+-] 2.Ke2 Kxc5 3.Bb7 [3.Kd3 Kb4 4.Bc6 Kc5 5.Bb5 Kd5 6.Bd7 Ke5 7.Bg4 Kd5 8.Bf3+ Ke5 9.Kc4 e2 10.Bxe2 Ke4 11.Kb5+-] 3...Kd4 4.Kf3 Kc3 5.Ba6 Kd2 6.Kxf4? [6.h5 Kd1 7.Kxf4 e2 8.Bxe2+ Kxe2 9.Kf5 Kf3 (9...Kd3 10.Kg6 Kc4 11.Kxh6 Kb4 12.Kg6 Kxa4 13.h6 Kb3 14.h7 a4 15.h8Q) 10.Kg6 Kg4 11.Kxh6 Kf5 12.Kg7+-] 6...e2 7.Bxe2 Kxe2 8.Kf5 Kf3 9.Kg6 Kf4 10.Kxh6 Kf5 11.Kh5 Kf6 12.Kh6 Kf5 13.h5 Kf6 14.Kh7 Kf7 15.h6 Kf8 16.Kg6 Kg8 17.Kf5 Kh7 18.Ke5 Kxh6 19.Kd5 Kg6 20.Kc5 Kf6 21.Kb5 Ke6 22.Kxa5 Kd7 23.Ka6 Kc8 24.Ka7 Kc7 25.a5 Kc8 26.Ka8 Kc7 27.a6 Kb6 28.a7 Kc7 1/2-1/2

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Pawns on the 6th

White to play and win
All other things being equal, adjacent passed pawns on the 6th normally beat a rook. This is because when one is pushed, it is still supported by the other, and covering the back rank leads to two adjacent pawns on the 7th.
But in chess, all things are often not equal, with other factors such as the placement of kings coming into play. The given problem demonstrates this is a nice way, with the position being a win for White (who is on the move). While there is some exact play required, the big takeaway from this puzzle is that there are circumstances where having pawns on the 6th and 7th rank aren't a problem, as long as the enemy king is on the 7th as well. But how do you get to such a position?

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Oh, this really is a thing

In between rounds of today's Street Chess event, weird and wonderful opening theory was being discussed. Matt Radisich's favourite Halasz Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.d4 ed 3.f4?) was the kick off point, but it quickly shifted to the Mason Gambit (IIRC). Stephen Mugford was the source of a line that seemed so bizarre that at first I assumed he was just making it up. 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 c5 3.e4!? were the first few moves and the main line he then showed us continued 3. ... dxe 4.d5 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Qe2 In response to my incredulity, he mentioned that Luc Winants was a practitioner, at which point I figured it probably was a real line.
It looks like a cross between the London System and a reversed Albin Counter Gambit, but does contain a few drops of poison. The main line (as given above) seems to score well for White, and has been played by a number of strong GM's. But based on the (few) games in my database, developing with 3. ... Nc6 seems to be the best choice, as White scores poorly.
On the other hand, here is an example of what can go wrong for Black if he does take on e4.

McShane,Luke J (2625) - Illescas Cordoba,Miguel (2624) [D00]
EU-chT (Men) 15th Gothenburg (3.1), 01.08.2005

Bridge is not a sport (in the UK)

The English Bridge Union had attempted to get the definition of what is a 'sport' changed by the UK High court, so as to access extra funding from the UK Government (through the National Lottery). If successful this would have had implications for chess, as it was highly unlikely that chess would have excluded under a redefinition.
Sadly for Bridge (and Chess), the application was rejected, as it could not be considered a physical activity. So for now chess/bridge/backgammon/scrabble are out, while dwarf tossing and bog snorkelling are (presumably) in!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Carlsen loses his Faen

The 2015 World Blitz Championship has ended in a win for Alexander Grischuk. Grischuck, who has a propensity to get into time trouble in long time control games, used this problem to his advantage to win the event with 15.5 points, half a point ahead of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Vladimir Kramnik.
Defending champion Magnus Carlsen had a bad finishing run to end up on 14 points, but the bigger story was his animated reaction to losing. He used a recognisable Norwegian expletive after one game, and left the board quite agitated. As with similar incidents in tennis there is now a debate about whether such behaviour is unacceptable, or whether it brings some extra colour to chess.
Carlsen himself recognised that his behaviour wasn't a good look, describing it at the post tournament press conference as "pretty stupid".

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Create a weakness, exploit a weakness

The following game was played tonight at the ANU Chess Club, between tournament leaders Harry Press and Fred Litchfield. Both players may have mixed up their opening lines (5.Nf3 instead of the intended 5.f4, 9. ... Qb6 instead of 9. ... Bc5) but after that the game turned into an interesting exercise in using the initiative. White exploited the location of the Black knight on b6 to play a4-a5-a6, with the idea of creating a weakness on c6. He then landed his knight on the now weakened square, before bringing his rooks into play. Black probably played the position a little too passively, although paradoxically he may have survived if he had "turtled" in the position with moves like Nb8 and Be7. As with games of this type, the decisive moment came when the White rooks reached the 7th rank, and after that all White needed to do was avoid back rank tricks to secure the victory.

Press,Harry - Litchfield,Fred [C11]
ANU Spring Swiss, 14.10.2015

Carlsen wins World Rapid, signs up for Qatar Masters

World Champion Magnus Carlsen has defended one of his other World Championship titles, the World Rapidplay Champion, winning the 2015 event in Berlin. Leading going into the final day, Carlsen beat Zhigalko and Ivanchuk in the first 2 rounds, and after that the pack could not run him down.
While winning this title isn't a surprise, the fact that Carlsen has signed on to the Qatar Masters is. For a reigning World Champion to play in an Open Swiss (albeit one with a lower limit of 2300) is very unusual, as most top ranked players normally avoid risking rating pints against lower ranked opponents. But the growth in big money events (with good conditions) seems to be changing the attitude towards swisses (Millionaire Chess being an obvious example), so maybe his decision isn't as much a surprise as a recognition that the older way of doing things is changing.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Draw in 9, win in 11

There was a bit of a blow up at the 2015 Millionaire Chess tournament, when Hikaru Nakamura and Luke McShane drew their round 7 game in 9 moves. Although the contracts they signed seemed to preclude draws in under 30 moves, by move 9 they had repeated the position 3 times and under the FIDE Laws of Chess, a draw was a perfectly legal result.
Of course the organisers were not happy about this, and the usual discussion about sponsors, presentation and the mythical TV audience sprung up. However the result stood, and both players qualified for a playoff to determine the tournament semi-finalists (which was the point of the short draw in the first place).
Interestingly, in the playoff Nakamura then beat Bareev in 11 moves. Although the game was played at a rapid time limit (G/15), it does raise the same sort of questions concerning the presentation of an event. As chess isn't a fixed time sport (like tennis, but unlike football), is there a significant difference between an 11 move draw and an 11 move win. In both cases the sponsors and spectators are expecting a lot more chess than they get to see, the only difference is that one player probably blundered in the latter case. And for events that apply penalties for quick draws (financial or otherwise) will players who lose to quickly become subject to the same penalties in the future!

Bareev,Evgeny - Nakamura,Hikaru [D02]
Millionaire Chess, 11.10.2015

Sunday, 11 October 2015

A chess game on wheels

I'm not sure spending most of the day watching the car racing from Bathurst counts as a waste of a day, or an affirmation of Australian culture. But I did spend a few hours in front of the TV, between bike riding, chess meetings and gardening. The race itself was made more exciting by the occasional showers, meaning that each lap wasn't as predictable as the previous one.
Although I did not watch all of it, or even the finish, I did get to watch it long enough to hear one of the commentators say "The game of chess continues". And that was enough for me. Another entry for the IAGOCOT files.

An overdose of chess

Sometimes there are no international chess events, then three all turn up at the same time (apologies for such an old joke). Currently running over this weekend is the World Blitz and Rapid, the Isle of Man International, and Millionaire Chess from Las Vegas. Each of these events has attracted a strong field, which is a little surprising as there was the potential for at least one event to suffer from the clash.
Each event is headlined by some big names with lots of the World's top 10 in action. Nakamura, Caruana and So have all headed to Las Vegas, while Carlsen and Anand are in Berlin for the Rapid. For the Isle of Man, a number of top English players are taking part, including Michael Adams, Nigel Short and Gawain Jones.
Adam's had a very quick win early in the tournament, when his opponent missed a couple of strong knight moves. Resignation as early has move 8 would have been justified but the game went on for a little longer.

Adams,Michael (2742) - Merry,Alan B (2335) [B01]
PokerStars IoM Masters Douglas ENG (5.12), 07.10.2015

Friday, 9 October 2015

The Troll-iest opening ever

Today at the ACT Juniors I saw what might be the 'troll-iest' opening line ever. The game started normally with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Then Black unleashed 4. ... Ng4?!? Now before you mock this move too much I'd like to point out my database has 8 games with this move and a score of +1=3-4 for White! The obvious intent is to provoke h3, and then meet it with h5! If White takes Black is just winning after hxg4, while leaving the knight on g4 helps black play moves like Bc5 etc. The game in question went 5.h3 h5 6.Nc3 Bc5 7.d3 d6 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.Bg5 Nf6 10.d4 exd 11.Nxd4 Bb7 when 12.Nf5 is very strong. Unfortunately White chose 12.Nf3 instead and Black eventually won after using the open b file to grab some pawns.
As I don't have the full game score to hand, I'll instead show you an earlier game, also played in Australia. White decides not to go in for the h3 line, but Black still tosses in h5 and after playing Qh4 is winning up until the end.

Rigo,Bernard (1720) - Goldsmith,Alan (2130) [C65]
Adelaide Interclub Adelaide (2), 2004

Thursday, 8 October 2015

ACT Junior Arbiter Fun

The 2015 ACT Junior Chess Championship is currently underway, and I doing duty as an assistant arbiter to WIM Emma Guo. The tournament is being run as one big swiss (50 players) with players from 18 years down to 5 years of age. It is a FIDE Rated event so everything is being done exactly by the book (as it would be for any event) and this has lead to some interesting situations already.
Three minutes into the first round there was already an issue with castling, and a double whammy at that. Play A correctly claimed that Player B had both castled into check, and had touched his rook first before doing so. Normally these things happen separately, but in this case, after the 2 minute time bonus was awarded Player B had to move the rook rather than the king.
The second case also involved castling but was stranger (and funnier). One of the top seeds asked me what happens if an illegal move is played, but not noticed/claimed until later in the game. "Show me" was my initial reply and I set of to investigate. It turns that the one of the player had illegally castled early in the game (7.Kxd1 followed by 8.O-O-O with the king ending up on g1!) but only realised they had done something wrong around move 35(!) when the game was almost finished. Rule 7.5a comes into play here, and the game was rewound all the way back to move 8 (and the clocks reset to the time at move 8). Again a 2 minute bonus was given to the opponent but in this case the king had to be moved.
The final case was at first an all to familiar situation in junior/schools chess. Players shook hands to end the game, set up the pieces, and then disagreed about the result. One player thought she had agreed to a draw, but the opponent had reported a win. Normally under those situations I endeavour to restart the game (as well as lecture the players on making sure a result is established before shaking hands), but it turned out the position on the board was in fact checkmate for the winner, rendering the rest of the discussion moot. (NB The shake hand draw/resignation confusion has also occurred in adult tournaments I have directed!)
Apart from that the event has run pretty well, with most games sticking to the rules. The final day is tomorrow (3 rounds), with Fred Litchfield out in front and favourite to win the title.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Logical chess, hack by hack

As a coaching book, "Logical Chess: Move by Move" is quite a fun text. Certainly the section on Kingside Attacks is a step above the "wait till your opponent blunders and mate on f7" examples that you see when starting out, while not being too inaccessible to the improving player.  On the other hand, most of the attacks do follow a similar formula. Aim a few pieces at the kingside, eliminate a key defender (usually the knight on f6), and then smash through on h7.
Of course the drawback in following this script, is often your opponent does not co-operate. But when they do, the game can be over almost as soon as it starts. Here is a very recent example where Black ignores his kingside, looking for play on the queenside. However in doing so he lets White firstly aim his pieces at the king, and after 12.... Nc4, lets him pull the trigger. (Note 12.h4 served a dual purpose, as 12.Bxh7+ does not quite work after 12. ... Kxh7 13.Ng5+ Kg8 14.Qh5 Qxc2= while later on Black resigned when faced with  19. ... Kxh6 20.h5! forcing mate)

Litchfield,Fred - Patterson,Miles [C18]
ANU Spring Swiss, 07.10.2015

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Totally cheated!

The always excellent "Drunk History" has just featured the 1972 Fischer v Spassky match in its most recent episode. Sadly for Australian viewers, it is either a long wait until SBS get around to showing series 3, or finding it on one of the subscription tv services that are starting to pop up. Annoyingly even the preview is blocked from Australian IP addresses.
Here at least is an article on the episode

Monday, 5 October 2015

Long Castling

I held of posting last night as I thought that Peter Svidler was likely to half out his final game and win the 2015 World Cup KO 2.5-1.5. This opinion was based on nothing more than a "surely he can't lose this" hunch, as he had started the 4 game match with 2 wins.
Turns out my hunches aren't always good, and Svidler did indeed lose game 4 of the match. He then compounded by this by losing the first game of today's rapid playoff making it three losses in a row, also known as 'Long Castling' (0-0-0). Currently they are playing the second rapidplay game (a must win for Svidler), and while Svidler is better at move 40, he may not be better enough.
Here is last nights games, which probably contains some important lessons. Firstly, the opening choice by Svidler was not that impressive (offering mass exchanges in the opening tend to favour the other player) while the endgame saw both a better pawn structure and RBvRN turning out better for Karjakin.
(Update: Svidler has just won the second game, tying the match up once again)

Karjakin,Sergey (2762) - Svidler,Peter (2727) [D02]
FIDE World Cup 2015 Baku AZE (7.4), 04.10.2015

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Bomb scare stops play

Street Chess has had a number of odd happenings this year, and to the list you can now add a new one. Bomb Scare!
While I was in Sydney at a Correspondence Chess League of Australia meeting, the event was being run by Stephen Mugford and Harry Press. Around 2 o'clock Harry rang me to tell me that the tournament had been abandoned due to a bomb scare. Apparently a package had been left unattended outside a nearby restaurant and the police were evacuating the area. At first the players moved to our backup venue before the evacuation zone was expanded, at which point entry fees were refunded an everyone went home.
A bit of a shame as apparently the 17 player event was running quite well, and the Canberra weather was excellent for outdoor chess.
So to the list of reasons for stopping a tournament (that previously included thunderstorm, heart attack, and stolen laptop) bomb scare can now be added.

Like deja vu all over again

Logged in late to watch the second game of the 2015 World Cup Final, and thought they were replaying the first game for a second. The I realised that the colours had changed, but the result had not. For the second day in a row Karjakin blew up against Svidler, resigning down material. And while yesterdays game was kind of a slow motion car crash, in this game Karjakin seemed to take a hard left straight into the wall. He took less than a minute to decide on the losing move (37.Rb5) and after following it up with another clunker, resigned.
So Svidler 2-0 up at the half way point, and only needing a draw to win the event.

Karjakin,Sergey - Svidler,Peter [C95]
2015 World Cup, 02.10.2015

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Well that was quick

I would have thought the first game of the Final of the 2015 World Cup would have been a peaceful draw. With 4 games rather than 2, the players could have taken it easy, checked out their opponents prep, and shaken hands around move 30. Instead Karjakin got cracked in 29 moves, with the end of the game looking particularly ugly.
After a closed opening, the position opened up in Svidler's favour. 20.Qb3 seemed to be the turning point of the game, as after that Karjakin had to meet a succession of threats, with his position getting steadily worse. By move 26 Svidler was totally winning, and Karjakin resigned a few moves later.

Svidler,Peter - Karjakin,Sergey [C00]
2015 World Cup, 01.10.2015

If you ever get this position ...

I suspect winning opening novelties are getting harder to come by these days, as (a) a lot of them have been found in the past and (b) computers. These means that anything really fun is most likely to occur in an obscure line which might take years before someone plays it against you.
An example of this, from one of my own games, did not happen the other night. It was a blitz game, and my opponent kindly went down the main line of the Traxler (no wimpy Bxf7+ thank you). He was even generous enough to grab my knight on move 9, a move that I remembered was supposed to be bad, but for reasons that escaped me. It turns out that it this opinion may not be accurate (in the computer age), but the line he did play was still god for me. That is, if I managed to find 13. ... Be6!! over the board. Turns out I did not, going for the obvious 13. ... Bh3+ which only lead to a perpetual.
Now I don't know whether this move had been found in analysis, but it certainly didn't turn up in my database. So if you ever get the position after move 12 on the board, you now know what to do!

Litchfield, Fred - Press, Shaun
ANU Spring Blitz, 23.09.2015