Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Off to a Chess Social

Things will be a little quiet on my blog for the next week or so, I'm officially on holiday and wouldn't you know it just to kick start it off with a bit of bad luck my broadband connection decided to pack up.

So with no way to post, I'm getting my head right for this coming weekend. Come Friday I'm packing a bag and heading for the big smoke (London) to stay at a friends house before attending the social event and meeting up with more chess friends. This years event is being held at the Corner Store, Covent Garden on Saturday 25th, if you register (for free) on the site, everyone is welcome to attend.

No doubt plenty of good food and beer will be sampled, but the main objective for me is to play some good OTB chess games and hopefully get some revenge after the beatings I got last year (yes Tom and Tryfon, I mean you two). I don't get to play much if any OTB chess at home so this is a really exciting chance for me to see if my studies have helped improve my game at all. I've improved my French Tarrasch, Najdorf and Slav this year so we'll soon see if that has helped, my endings are somewhat better too, although my rook endings seem to have got worse.

Hopefully I'll get a few pics to post here so you might finally get to see what I look like (probably scare most of you into never returning).

See you soon, Best wishes, Juicy.

PS. Who won the Staunton Memorial? Never mind I'm not interested. :o)

Friday, 17 August 2007

White to play and mate!

Nice easy one for you today so that your brain doesn't get fried too much before you head for a nice cold beer.

Click on the piece you want to move, then select the square you wish to move it to.

Kramnik Overwhelming Favourite

Current standings in my poll would suggest that this is the case, as the current position of the voting is:

Kramnik 52%
Anand 23%
Aronian 17%
Morozevich 5%

Does anyone else find it odd that Anand and Aronian are warming up for the World Championship tournament by playing 960 and Rapidplay at Mainz just 4 weeks before it starts?

Does it have any relevance at all?

Is this what seemingly separates someone like Kramnik from other contenders and that his focus for the past few months has been solely that of retaining the World Championship?

As professional chess players, I'm sure Anand and Aronian are doing plenty of preparation with their opening repertoires, studying thousands upon thousands of games, but will that extra focus be the enduring factor which retains the title for Kramnik?

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Staunton Memorial Joke

I just though I'd pop to the homepage of this tournament again in the hope that I might find Mickey Adams strolling away in the lead. Alas this was not so, however, whilst I was there I re-read the details on the main page and I nearly wet myself as it finally sunk in how appalling this whole shenanigans is.

The following is a quote from that page, on what the tournament organisers hope to achieve.

"The Staunton society exists to perpetuate the name of Howard Staunton , Britain's only ever claimant to be world chess champion, and to promote uk chess and in particular give young british players the prospects for gm norms and titles."

Well we've already covered the fact that running the tournament alongside the official British Chess Championships is counter-productive in promoting the game of chess in the UK, along with the lack of internet coverage.

However, I just thought I'd point out to the organisers that "young british players" probably shouldn't include in any list the following players: Speelman B.1956, McNab B.1961, Wells B.1965, Adams B.1971 and it's probably pushing it to include Houska B.1980 but I'll allow them that one.

But what about the Norms and Titles for these so called young british players?

Seems to me, that all the players aside from Houska have a GM title. Were they hoping she would win the tournament outright with a rating 300 points lower than Adams'.

Oh, and as a footnote to this post the current team score is Holland 28.5, U.K. 19.5

These not so old British players are really performing spectacularly well, if you are actually interested in this event at all you can see the crosstable and games here.

V. Marx György Memorial

A disastrous finish to this tournament for the legendary Victor Korchnoi, he seemingly had a very comfortable position in his game with Peter Acs before allowing the Black Queens intrusion into his side of the board. The win enabled Acs to tie for the lead after the current leader Pentala Harikrishna managed only a half point in his final game. Hou Yifan and Berkes Ferenc drew their game, surely a stepping stone to greater achievements for the youngster from China.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Video Navigator

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You Hou!

It hasn't been the greatest tournament for her as she is placed bottom, but the youngster Hou Yifan in round 9 at the Gyorgy Memorial in Hungary, demonstrated again her fine talents.

For the second time in this tournament she faced the tournament leader with the Black pieces and in a game simplified to a major piece endgame gained a nice half point. Hopefully she can pick up another win today against Berkes Ferenc and finish the tournament in style.

Pentala Harikrishna still leads the tournament and it will be a good tournament win for him if he can bring it home today he faces Balogh in the final round effectively in a playoff for the title.

Don't forget you can follow the final round games live from the link on my sidebar, no need for downloads or sign-in registration procedures.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Tuesday Top Tip

"The retreat of a minor piece to the back rank, where it cuts the lines of communication between the Rooks, is permissable only in exceptional cases." - Alekhine

Monday, 13 August 2007

World Championship Mexico 2007

1 Month to go now until the opening ceremony takes place and little much high level chess to speak of until it starts.

The current voting on my poll is favouring Kramnik, no surprise there really given that he is the current Champ, Anand, Aronian and Morozevich have all received at least one vote, a little surprised noone's money seems to be on Leko. Still plenty of time to vote though so if you are visiting the blog please cast your vote on the sidebar.

Follow this link for the Official site where you can get all the latest information. I followed the registration as much as I could (the end page is in Spanish) in order to hopefully receive a newsletter, which looks like it will contain detailed analysis of each player in turn, compiled by GM Mihail Marin.

I have 2 Marin books and enjoy his penmanship so hopefully these analysis will be very interesting.

White to play and win!

Click on the piece you want to move, then select the square you wish to move it to.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Kasparov vs Topalov 1999

This video is brought to you courtesy of the webmaster at chessworld himself, Kingscrusher.

This game features one of the greatest King hunts of all time, but was it merely just superb home preparation in a very theoretical game?

Out with the old - In with the new.

Not quite just yet.

Today I spent considerable time watching the Korchnoi vs Hou Yifan game on the playchess server and thoroughly enjoyed the battle. There is over 60 years of difference in their ages and it was fascinating to watch the struggle of experience versus youthful exuberance.

It did seem that once the game reached a pretty even Rook Knight and Pawn ending that the old dog was turning his overwhelming experience into a win, however the super talented youngster fought on bravely and secured a half point against the tournament leader with the black pieces.

Certainly this should prove valuable experience for her on her inevitable rise to the top. Follow the link on the previous post for the game.

Friday, 10 August 2007

V. Marx Gyorgy Memorial

This is probably not a high profile event, but I'm following the progress of the extremely talented Hou Yifan before she turns up to bash a few Brits at the UK vs. China match being held in Liverpool next month. Halfway through the tournament she's stuck at the bottom of the crosstable but she did have a good win against GM Balogh.

The event does include the legend that is Victor Korchnoi who currently leads and also the talented young Indian player Pentala Harikrishna. Follow this link here for the official site and you can follow the live games which start again tomorrow from the link on my sidebar.


British Championships 2007 - Great Yarmouth

Congratulations to Jacob Aagaard for the main title and to Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant who retains the ladies title. I hope we see Jonathan Rowson come back next year and now that he doesn't have to defend the title, abandons it for some other petty tournament which shall remain nameless.

Congrats also to the couple of fellow chessworld members who played in the event, they also performed very well.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Alekhine vs Sterk 1921

"This is my first attempt at a Youtube video annotation; any comments would be very welcome:
With kind regards
Comte de Monte Cristo"

The Comte de Monte Cristo is one of the finest annotators on and if he continues in the same vein with these videos we're sure to be well entertained.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

A Juicy Annotation

This is a game played between two players on and annotated by me, feel free to comment good or bad, feedback is appreciated from all.

1.e4, should give us a nice open game.

...e5 things aleady getting nice and open.

2.Nf3 White wants control of the centre and brings his Knight out, trying to control the d4 and e5 squares.

...Nc6 Black is having none of it and counters with Nc6 and covers both e5 and d4.

3.Nc3 White really wants control of the centre and by bringing out his other knight he continues his minor piece development whilst supporting e4 and keeping an eye on d5.

...Nf6 Four knights opening. Black says No! He is not going to let White have control of the centre without a major battle ensuing.

4.d4 A continuation, Bishop b5 is the preferred main line but White wishes to bring the battle for the centre ground to the forefront. It looks like a bloodbath is not too far away.

...d6 Hmmm. This could be blacks first error, although only a tiny one. Nxd4 is the main line response here, to illustrate the position at present, Fritz give this position as + 0.50 for White, if Black had taken Fritz scores is + 0,20 for Black.

5.Bb5 White continues his development with the correct response to Blacks previous move. Blacks Knight which is supporting the centre is now pinned because of d6 and Blacks position is weakened slightly.

...Bd7 The correct response as Bxc6, Bxc6 is of no advantage to White because Blacks bishop would then be attacking e4, and White cannot afford to let that happen just yet.

6.Bxc6 Well White decides that he can in fact deal with the exchange. Main line gives castle as the correct option here.

...bxc6 Oh no! What is Black thinking here? The correct response here was Bxc6, keeping the d5 square defended. Now Black has doubled up pawns and is inviting what must surely come as Whites next move.

7.dxe5 Absolutely spot on! If Black elects to re-take he will lose another pawn after Nxe5 and even worse he would have 2 Isolated pawns on the 'c' file. Fritz gives the score at + 1.30 for White now.

...Ng4 Black makes the correct decision here, re-taking would have caused big problems. Ng4 gets a little back for Black here with a nicely positioned piece, but he may rue the loss of that pawn.

8.exd6 White correctly takes here and although it gives black the opportunity to get his pawns back connected, compared to Whites pawn structure, Blacks is looking a littel unstable now.

...cxd6 Ok Blacks pawns are re-connected again, but Blacks lost pawn leaves a gaping hole in his ranks.

9.h3 White turns his attention to the potentially threatening Black Knight and politely suggests that he should leave g4 in a hurry.

...Nf6 Black avoids an inevitable exchange if he moves to e4 and safely retreats. But will it invite in more trouble

10.O-O Looks like this is definitely the strongest move. White is obviously feeling it is now time to get some big pieces into play. His other obvious option of e5 would have been good enough inviting Nd5 and an exchange, or dxe5, Nxe5 both would have given a strengthened position. Fritz gives the score around + 1.30 still for White.

...Be7 Good response from Black, he obviously appreciates the position and correctly responds, knowing he now needs to castle quickly.

11.a4 White has some plan here that is not clear, e5 would have been much stronger here.

...O-O Black gets his King to safety and his defensive position is now looking quite solid.

12.b4 Bf4, Qd3 and b3 were all stronger lines than this. b4 simply gets White over-extended and if Black was to play correctly, Whites position would deteriorate rapidly.

...Qc7 d5 here would have been great, it opens up the a3-f8 diagonol for the Black squared bishop threatening the pawn on b4. It also weakens Whites centre by pretty much forcing an exchange which would have left the centre almost piece free. An opportunity missed for Black here (Fritz score after d5 is + 0.50 for White) bearing in mind that he is a pawn up and the score a couple of moves before, it highlights how good a move d5 would have been.

13.Re1 Solid enough move, supporting e4.

...Qb6 The basic principle of make sure every move has a reason points out how ineffectual the move Qc7 was initially. d5 would still have been a stong move here.

14.b5 Good enough, although Rb1 might have given the position a bit more strength by supporting this push as a future move as opposed to right now.

...c5 Very dangerous indeed! Black obviously wishes to keep his connected pawns because he is already a pawn down, but to give White a passed pawn is now going to mean a lot of Blacks counterplay is going to be tied up defending the passed pawn.

15.Nd5 White misses a trick here. The Knight on c3 was doing a great job supporting both pawns on a4 and b5 and there is no reason to move it. White should have switched back to the Kingside here with e5, it would have destroyed Black pawn structure.

...Qd8 Blacks Queen returns to its starting position after wasting a whole lot of time in between. The wasted moves have only allowed White to continue his development and gain valuable spatial advantage.

16.c4 Nxe7 is the preferred option here, weakening Blacks defence slightly. White prefer to keep his 'c' pawn in touch with the others and creates a solid chain in the middle of the board.

...Kh8 Nxd5 would have given Black some breathing space here, allowing his bishop access to the d8-h3 diagonal, freeing up the 'e' file for his rook. Instead Kh8 only invites more pressure from White.

17.Bg5 White continues to add pressure on Blacks Knight.

...h6 Getting rid of the Knight on d5 should have been Blacks priority here, but with h6 the game is slowly slipping away.

18.Bh4 OMG!!! BLUNDER!!! If Black sees this White is doomed, Nxd5 probably wins the game for Black (Fritz score after Nxd5 goes from + 1.83 for white to + 1.25 for Black. After Knight captures White is forced to either re-capture with the queen which loses the bishop or he has to play Bxe7 either way, White would then have been losing. So what should White have done? Simple he should have taken Bxf6 opening up Blacks Kingside

...Nh5? Fortunately for White, Black doesn't see the potential in Nxd5 and makes his own blunder.

19.Nxe7! BOOM! White's hungry horse snaffles the Black Bishop and there is nothing Black can do about it.

...g5 Black gives himself some breathing space but the outcome seems inevitable now.

20.Qxd6! Nice attacking move from White whose Queen pounces on the undefended pawn, threatening Qxh6 Checkmate!

...gxh4 KABOOM! Well Black obviously does not see the mate threat, which should have been defended by simply playing Be6, or he has had enough of this game.

21.Qxh6+! CHECKMATE. Nicely finished by White.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Staunton Memorial Boycotts World.

Billed as the strongest tournament to be held in London for 20 years, most would have thought that the event would have been promoted to the hilt across the UK and on the Internet as a perfect opportunity to promote chess in the UK.

But oh no. Some pompous ass, has decided that the event will only be covered in the bar area inside the venue.

On the same day that this so called prestigious event started without live games being broadcast, we have online live games being broadcast from Great Yarmouth, Hungary and Norway, all 3 pioneers of the 21st millenium and leaving the once great capital of England in their wake.

Shame on you London, shame on you Staunton Memorial tournament organisers and I guess behind the whole strategy with no authority whatsoever the ECF, shame on you all.

Najdorfs Polish Immortal

A great game by one of the lesser known players from yester year, this video is brougth to you by fellow member Canstein2.

Tuesday Top Tip

"Weak points or holes in the opponents position must be occupied by pieces not pawns". - Siegbert Tarrasch

Monday, 6 August 2007

Building an Opening Repertoire for White. Pt1

These repertoire posts will be my interpretation of how a beginner with some knowledge of the game, can take their first steps in serious chess improvement by focusing and organising their efforts by building their individual opening repertoires.

First up I think we have to decide on what we want to achieve from the opening. Do we want to play offbeat openings that may have limited surprise factor or do we want to learn openings that will lead to a constant learning curve and lead to better results once we start playing stronger opponents.

Offbeat openings can often lead to shorter more tactical games with openings such as the Kings Gambit or the Birds Opening, or the Danish Gambit but against stronger players they can often be proved very dangerous for White play. I would therefore suggest that we concentrate on the more standard openings, at least for the first few moves.

Of course, the problem with playing standard openings is that your opponent will no doubt have much more knowledge of the opening that you will, this will diminish over time and of course there are plans we can have to lessen the effect of your opponent being 'booked up'.

Next up, we get to perhaps the most important step, which move to play. I consider that it's very important to concentrate our efforts on one move in hundreds of games, before we consider playing a different one. With that in mind which moves should we consider? Well in my opinion there are 4 choices:

a. 1.e4
b. 1.d4
c. 1.Nf3
d. 1.c4

I'm not going to say which move is better than the other, this will most often come down to personal preference and depend in the main on your past experiences and your individual style of play or even which master you would like to emulate.

It is only now that we have decided which of the 4 moves above we are going to concentrate on, that we can start to build an opening repertoire.

To be cont'd.

White to play and mate!

Click on the piece you want to move, then select the square you wish to move it to.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

You Hifan - The next J. Polgar?

She's 13 years old, and as of Jul 07 has a FIDE rating of 2523 making her the 4th highest rated female player on the planet. In September she'll be representing China in the match with the UK being held in Liverpool, England and I for one am really looking forward to seeing her play. Not sure that some of the UK players will be looking forward to getting beaten by a 13 yr old girl though (expect some early draw offers).

Is this young lady going to be stepping into Judit Polgars shoes in a year or two and going to be regularly playing in grade 'a' tournaments against the top men. Too early to say but given the speed of her rating increases it looks very likely and she may be the first woman to play in a World Championship match (Wch Match 2020 Magnus Carlsen (Current champion) vs You Hifan (Challenger), result unknown. :o)

As an extension to this post, can we expect chinese chess to keep growing? If so are there any young male players that we should be looking out for?

Just been doing a little digging around on her opening repertoire, seems that with White she exclusively plays 1.e4, does that remind you of anyone?

Friday, 3 August 2007

Just like London buses.

So few high class tournaments seem to be held in the UK these days, we have Hastings around the Christmas holidays then we wait till August before another. Then when August arrives we don't just get the British Championships, we also get the Staunton Memorial (highest rating event on these shores for 20 years), not only that, the schedules overlap each other.

How frustrating is that? Wouldn't we like to be able to see Jonathan Rowson defend his title but also play as part of the UK players representing us in the Staunton Memorial, where Michael Adams rating stands head and shoulders above the other UK players.

2 weeks later in the first week in September we also get a high class tournament in Liverpool for the UK vs China match, thankfully better represented.

Why on earth are all these tournaments scheduled for the holiday season and all at the same time? Someone please get off their snobbery high horse and sort things out for next year.

White to play and mate!

Double points if you're clever enough to tell me who the players were. If noone replies I will post the player identities tomorrow.

Boris Spassky vs Efim Geller 1968 Sukhumi

This is what I mean by being inspired. This might not be releveant in terms of what openings I play, but it's a great game to play through.

Looking for Inspiration

We've all seen those lists 'Who's the greatest player of all time' but what does that really mean. Opinions are often reached by varying parameters and often include players that have never been World Champion. Of course incumbant World Champions have often avoided playing the best players of their time, something which continues to this present day, so that increases the problem of defining the 'greatest'.

What I want to suggest here, is that rather than looking for the greatest players, that what we should look for is the most inspirational. In that case would any list be different to those pertaining to the greatest.

I study a fair few games during a weeks online activity, nowhere near enough to greatly improve, but what I need to do is study games that keep me inspired and in a busy family life keep me interested in the game of chess. So finding the right players to study is quite important for me to keep this passion for the game alive.

Yet again there are a number of quick draws at the British Champs (1 in 7 moves another in 9), I would hardly call this inspiring chess. So who should I study? The players I do like in particular are Kasparov, Alekhine, Spassky, Keres, Tal and Smyslov. Is there a pattern here, and given those names are there others I should be looking at. Some may say, "surely you must like Capablanca" the fact is that whilst his endgames are superb, I don't consider them inspiring. "What about Fischer?", no thanks, the hype around him bores me to tears and so many of his 'greatest' performances were against poorer players IMO, whilst others were intimidating performances given with the political muscle of cold war USA behind him.

Any thoughts let me know.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Armageddon Chess - Is it fair?

You could easily substitute Armageddon Chess for its football equivalent the penalty shootout. Everyone agrees it's awful that it should decide a tournament, everyone says they hate them, they're only good for the following things and that's provide low quality drama, suspense and a brief adrenalin rush, usually at the expense of quality play.

I've just finished watching the Biel tie-breaks on the playchess server and after all blitz games were drawn we ended up with Onishcuk/Carslen in an Armageddon game, simple rules White gets 5 mins, Black gets 4 mins, White must win and Black only has to draw. Which to his credit Carlsen played brilliantly and is now declared the tournament winner.

Isn't this a bit shallow though, surely it's almost impossible for White to force a win. If Black plays the opening safe White will inevitably be forced to play sub-standard moves in his quest for the point, after all isn't chess about the position on the board and not a pre-determined outcome.

Is there an alternative to these games, well yes in short, noone wins outright, the tournament is simply tied and winnings shared equally. What's the disgrace in having a tournament finishing with players tied 1st equal? Absolutely nothing IMO.

I enjoyed Biel even though the players were some of the lower echelons of the elite, but Carlsen, Radjabov and Onischuk played excellent stuff and whilst Judit Polgar wasn't her sparkling self, she was still very solid. I therefore think it a crying shame that this sort of chess can be the differentiating factor.

Oh well, let's hope this situation doesn't arise at Mexico for all our sakes.

British Chess Championship

Nicholas Pert destroyed Barrett today in 25 moves even though he did find himself in the following triple pawn position after just 12 moves,

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.g3 g6 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Ne5 Ng4 9.f4 Nxe5 10.fxe5 c5 11.e3 Nc6 12.Bxc6 bxc6

Meanwhile Jacob Aagaard systematically broke down Graeme Oswald after his c and d pawns advanced too far up the board for the defender to be comfortable with, leaving Pert and Aagaard the only 2 players left with 100 percent records. Both better watch out for a certain Mr Rowson though, who won his 2nd consecutive game after his time troubles in round 2.

British Championships 2007

Graeme Oswalds reward for a cracking win over Glenn Flear yesterday is a chance to battle with Jacob Aagaard today, both players are 3 wins from 3 and are currently tied with Stephen Barrett and Nicholas Pert who play each other. Round 4 starts today at 14:15 BST you can follow the live games from the link on my sidebar.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Quick Draws, how to avoid them?

Was Radjabov vs Motylev Biel Rd8 really a 10 move draw? Playchess and the live site both say so, I'm not sure if ICC agrees they may have posted an extra few moves.

Surely this is a really bad way of promoting the game of chess, so how can the situation be addressed?

Well of course there's the Sofia rules which could be applied to all tournaments, but I would much rather, prefer to see them adopt the increased points scoring system for wins the same way other sports such as Football and Rugby have done.

There are those that would object of course, because there are concerns that players tournament positions could in effect be manipulated. In my opinion I doubt very much if this would be the case, I would in fact excpect players to get more combative and more creative and thus create magnificent games to be replayed, over and over again 50 years from now, much the same way as we play through a Capablanca, Morphy, Alekhine game looking on in awe at the way the pieces dance around the board.

No criticism is directed at the 2 players involved today, Radjabov may well have been tired from his previous slugfest with Van Wely that he wasn't up for a fight today. He may also have glanced over at Carlsens game and seen that he was losing, and thus the tournament lead was up for grabs given that they play each other in round 9.