Monday, 22 January 2018

The openings we love, hurt us the most

GM Gawain Jones is well regarded here in Canberra, having played in a few Doeberl Cups, where he proved a friendly and entertaining  competitor. Despite moving up the chess ladder since then, he has stuck with a lot of the openings that he played back then, which is why he is a popular player elsewhere as well.
In the current Tata Steel event he wheeled out the Sicilian Dragon against World Champion Magnus Carlsen, which apparently surprised Magnus, despite the fact that Jones has even written a book on the opening. Whether through over confidence or carelessness, Carlsen even managed to blunder a piece in the opening, and looked gone for all money. But he did have a little play for it, and he began to pose problems for Jones. The pressure that Carlsen did exert began to tell and after a couple of inaccurate moves from Jones, momentum swung Carlsen's way. A few moves later the position was even, and then in Carlsen's favour. And soon after the first time control Jones had to resign a game that earlier on was headed for a different outcome.


Carlsen,Magnus (2834) - Jones,Gawain C B (2640) [B76]
80th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee NED (8.1), 21.01.2018




Sunday, 21 January 2018

The new Number 2

Fans of the Patrick McGoohan show "The Prisoner" will remember the importance of "Number 2", the ever changing antagonist of "Number 6". Recently the chess world has seen as similar situation where various players have taken on the role of  Number 2, potentially challenging Number 1 (Carlsen). The current Number 2 is Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who is currently leading Tata Steel after scoring his 3rd straight win. He is now a full 10 rating points ahead of third place in the live rankings and is only 18 points behind Carlsen. In part he has been aided by the collapse of Caruana, who has dropped 5 places, and 20 rating points, due to his poor results in Wijk aan Zee.


Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar (2804) - Wei,Yi (2743) [E06]
80th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee NED (7.5), 20.01.2018



Saturday, 20 January 2018

Highest, Fastest, not quite the strongest

Having look through my database for some interesting games, I began to wonder who was the highest rated player to get mated in 5 moves, in a proper game. Finding the answer was not quite as simple as it looked, as there were a few examples where strong players clearly threw the game in a very obvious manner (An example of this was 1.f3 e5 2.h3 Qh4+ 3.g3 Qxg3#)
So the game I have chosen may not be the absolute record holder, but it at least looks plausible (if a bit weird).


Gardijan,Milan (2153) - Sulc,Gordana (2020) [B20]
Bizovac Metalis op 11th Bizovac (5), 28.02.2004



BTW, if you are looking for games that end Mate in 6, then take you pick from vast number of people who walked into 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Qe2 Ngf6 6.Nd6#

Friday, 19 January 2018

ACT - Punching a little above its weight

While arbiting at the recent Australian Championship, I kept a special eye on the players from Canberra who took part in the various events. The ACT has always punched well above it's weight in Australian chess, and this year was no exception. Three ACT players took part in the Championship itself (IM Andrew Brown, FM Michael Kethro and Albert Winkelman) which is not a bad number considering the ACT makes up 1.6% of the Australian population. Andrew Brown finished in a tie for 8th place, while Michael Kethro (5/11) and Albert Winkelman (4.5/11) did not do so badly.
In the Reserves event Willis Lo finished in 2nd place, after going down in the final round. He started the event seeded 22nd, and had a particularly impressive second half of the event.
In the Classic event Matt Radisich surprised even himself by finishing in third place, going through the tournament undefeated to finish on 5.5/7.
And finally, Fred Litchfield  had a strong Blitz championship beating IM Stephen Solomon, FM Jack Puccini, and IM Leonid Sandler to score an impressive 7/11.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Viva Anand

After a less than stellar 2017 (except for the last bit), Viswanathan Anand continues his resurgence at the Tata Steel event in The Netherlands. He won his first round game against Maxim Matlakov and then drew with Karjakin in round 2. In round 3 he was up against Fabiano Caruana, and defying the age gap, beat the young American in a complicated game. He now leads the event on 2.5/3, along with Anish Giri, who seemingly surprised everyone by winning his first two games.
As I type this Giri is up against World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a sharp line of the French, where Black has thematically sacrificed the g and h pawns for activity in the centre. Anand is facing countryman Adhiban, and might be outright first by the time I wake in the morning.


Anand,V (2767) - Caruana,F (2811) [C42]
80th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee NED (3), 15.01.2018



Tuesday, 16 January 2018

2018 Australian Junior

The 2018 Australian Junior Chess Championship is up an running in Melbourne, and it looks like there is a record field on hand. The main event is the Under 18 championship which has attracted a pretty solid field of 22 players, although typically missing the very top Australian juniors.
The older age groups (open) run the entire length of the tournament, while the majority of events start on Wednesday. The ACT is represented by 8 players this year, with Sulia Van Sebille probably the best hope of taking home a title, in the Under 14 girls.


Saturday, 13 January 2018

Tata Steel 2018

After two weeks of watching chess during the day, now it is back to two weeks of watching chess late at night. The 2018 Tata Steel event has just begun (15 minutes ago!), with the heavyweight clash of Carlsen v Caruana first up. The 14 player round robin also has Kramnik, Giri, So, Anand in the field, so there should be plenty of good games each round.
This tournament should also provide something of a preview for the upcoming Candidates tournament with a few of Carlsen's likely challengers in the field. It may be an opportunity for them to both test Carlsen, as well as try and get a physiological edge over each other. Of course Carlsen could use the tournament to repeat Capablanca's dominant win in the 1927 New York tournament ( 2.5 points ahead of Alekhine), although if he does, he should hope that history does not repeat itself further, as Alekhine then defeated Capablanca for the World Championship title later that year.