31 January 2009

Six Lead Corus!

In the Corus Chess 2009 tournament, six players are tied for first in the Grandmaster A Group.

Standings after Twelve Rounds
1. Aronian, Dominguez, Radjabov, Movsesian, Karjakin, Carlsen 7.0
7. Kamsky 6
8. Ivanchuk, Smeets, van Wely 5.5
11. Adams, Wang, Stellwagen 5
14. Morozevich 4.5

Tomorrow, the games start an hour earlier--12:30pm CET.

The match-ups to watch:
Levon Aronian has Black against Jan Smeets
Leinier Dominguez has White against Sergei Karjakin
Teymour Radjabov has White against Daniel Stellwagen
Sergei Movsesian has Black against Gata Kamsky
Magnus Carlsen has Black against Wang Yue

Who wants it bad enough to take the risks necessary to win?

Corus C Group

Tournament leader Wesley So defeated Tiger Hillarp Persson, his closest pursuer. A draw tomorrow makes him the winner, and secures his invitation to next year's B Group.

Hillarp Persson - So [D11]
Corus Chess (12), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.Bd3 Bg4 6.Qb3 Bxf3 7.gxf3 Qc7 8.Nc3 e6 9.a4 Nbd7 10.cxd5 cxd5 11.a5 Nb8 12.Bd2 Nc6 13.Ke2 Bd6 14.Na4 0–0 15.Qb6 Qe7 16.Nc5 Rab8 17.f4 Bc7 18.Qb3 Bxf4 19.Qc3 e5 20.Nb3 Rfc8 21.dxe5 Bxe5 22.Qc5 Nd4+ 23.Qxd4 Bxd4 24.Nxd4 Ne4 25.Rag1 g6 26.Bxe4 dxe4 27.h4 Rc4 28.Bc3 Rxc3 29.bxc3 Qc7 30.Kf1 Qxa5 31.h5 Qa1+ 32.Kg2 Qxc3 33.hxg6 fxg6 34.Rh4 Re8 35.Rb1 b5 36.Rhh1 Qc5 37.Rbc1 Qg5+ 38.Kf1 Rf8 39.Rh2 Qxe3 0–1

The newest Grandmaster, Anish Giri, also won today.

Giri - Leon Hoyos [A41]
Corus Chess (12), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Bg4 3.g3 Bxf3 4.exf3 g6 5.c4 Nd7 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.0–0 c6 8.Nc3 Nb6 9.d5 Rc8 10.Qd3 Nf6 11.Be3 cxd5 12.cxd5 Nfd7 13.Bd4 Bxd4 14.Qxd4 0–0 15.Rfe1 Nf6 16.Re2 Rc4 17.Qd3 a6 18.Rae1 Rc7 19.f4 Nc4 20.b3 Na3 21.Bh3 Rc5 22.Ne4 Nxe4 23.Rxe4 Rc7 24.f5 Nb5 25.fxg6 hxg6 26.a4 Na7 27.Qd4 b5 28.Rh4 f6 29.Qe3 g5 30.Qe4 f5 31.Qe6+ Kg7 32.Qh6+ Kf7 33.Bxf5 1–0

With eight points, Giri is the only player capable of catching So. If he wins tomorrow (Black against Dronavalli Harika) and So loses (White against David Howell), the two will tie for first. I think we can expect some quick draws in the C Group.

Corus B Group

Nigel Short is still playing. Before today's games, he had half a point lead over Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Fabiano Caruana. Kasimdzhanov won and Caruana drew. Short and Kasimdzhanov both have Black tomorrow. If their opponents are ambitious, the conclusion could be very much in the air.

10:22am PST; 7:22pm CET

Nigel Short - Zahar Efimenko was drawn. Short and Kasimdzhanov are tied with 8.

Wijk aan Zee: Round Twelve

The penultimate round is in progress at Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands. Nearly half of the players in the Grandmaster A Group can be confident that with two good games, he will finish in first. In this fourteen player all play all tournament, 8.5 points is good enough for first place most years. Four players remain capable of reaching that mark. Some years, 8 points are good enough, and six players are within reach of that score.

For the chess fan, it is hard to select the key game to watch.

Alexander Morozevich will finish near last place. He has two wins, four draws, and five losses. Today he has Black against one of the leaders, Levon Aronian. The opening was a Grunfeld. Aronian castled long, and his monarch looks a wee bit less secure than Moro's.

Against Jan Smeets, Magnus Carlsen played 1.c4, but this English rapidly transposed into a Caro-Kann.

The event's top seed, Vassily Ivanchuk, has been inconsistent in this event and will need a strong performance in the last two rounds to finish in the upper half. He is struggling for advantage against Leinier Dominguez, who played a Sicilian Defense. Dominguez is one of the current leaders, and has recently joined the exclusive group of players rated above 2700. His rating graph shows a steady rise: he crossed over 2600 on the April 2002 rating list, and over 2700, July 2008.

Sergei Karjakin - Michael Adams are playing from a closed Ruy Lopez.

Two of the four leaders are playing each other. Sergei Movsesian opted for a Bb5 line against Teymour Radjabov's Sicilian.

It is 6:30 am on the Pacific Coast of North America. That's 3:30pm on the North Sea Coast where these games started two hours ago.

Loek van Wely and Gata Kamsky played to an early draw. Perhaps Kamsky is starting to think more about his games next month. Meanwhile five other games are demanding my attention. I need to make some choices while I extract some nectar from the almighty coffee bean.

The Youngest Grandmaster

My attention has been directed towards the drama of the Corus A Group, but in the C Group Anish Giri completed his final Grandmaster norm. At fourteen and a half, he is now the youngest grandmaster in the world and currently in third place in the C Group, one game behind Wesley So. Watching Giri attempt to break down Leon Hoyos's Modern Defense could easily draw my attention away from the battles in the A Group. Giri came into this event rated 2469, fifteen points lower than the 2004 C Group winner who was about the same age then, Magnus Carlsen.

Giri - Leon Hoyos [A41]

Corus Chess (12), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Bg4 3.g3 Bxf3 4.exf3 g6 5.c4 Nd7 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.0–0 c6 8.Nc3 Nb6 9.d5 Rc8 10.Qd3 Nf6 11.Be3 cxd5 12.cxd5 Nfd7 13.Bd4 Bxd4 14.Qxd4 0–0

7:21am PST; 4:21pm CET

Aronian - Morozevich [D98]
Corus Chess (12), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0–0 7.e4 Bg4 8.Be3 Nfd7 9.0–0–0 a6 10.h3 Bxf3 11.gxf3 b5 12.Qb3 c5 13.dxc5 e6 14.f4 Qe7 15.Rd6 Rc8 16.e5 Nxc5 17.Bxc5 Rxc5 18.Kb1 Rc8 19.h4


Carlsen - Smeets [B10]
Corus Chess (12), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.c4 c6 2.e4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.cxd5 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nxd5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bb5 e6 8.0–0 Be7 9.d4 0–0 10.Re1 Bd7 11.Bd3 Rc8 12.Nxd5 exd5 13.Ne5 Bf6 14.Bf4 g6 15.Qb3 Na5 16.Qb4 Be6 17.Bh6 Bg7

18.Bxg7 Kxg7 19.h4 Re8

Movsesian - Radjabov [B30]
Corus Chess (12), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.0–0 Nge7 5.Nc3 Nd4 6.Nxd4 cxd4 7.Ne2 a6 8.Ba4 Nc6 9.d3 b5 10.Bb3 Bc5 11.f4 Qh4 12.Bd2 Bb7 13.Kh1 Qe7 14.Qe1 g6 15.c3 dxc3 16.Bxc3 Bb4 17.d4 Bxc3 18.Qxc3 Qb4 19.Qe3

19...Na5 20.d5 O-O

Things seem slow this morning (afternoon). I don't know if all the players are on a long think, or if there are broadcast transmission problems. But all these games seem to be moving slow, or not moving at all right now. The clocks on the Playchess server are never fully reliable for these broadcasts, but they usually give up some clues regarding the official game clocks. Today, they seem non-functional. Perhaps the servers are having bandwidth issues.

Perhaps the broadcast issue was local? The Playchess server seemed frozen, but my web browser was slow, and an expected email was delayed. I'll rant about the near monopoly of my ISP another day.

In the A Group, Carlsen beat Smeets and Karjakin prevailed over Adams. Aronian - Morozevich is still in progress, and the otehr games were drawn.

If Aronian - Morozevich ends as a draw:

Standings after Twelve Rounds (Projected)
1. Aronian, Dominguez, Radjabov, Movsesian, Karjakin, Carlsen 7.0
7. Kamsky 6
8. Ivanchuk, Smeets, van Wely 5.5
11. Adams, Wang, Stellwagen 5
14. Morozevich 4.5

Aronian - Morozevich Update

20.Rg1 Qf3 21.Bg2 Qxf2 22.Qd1 Ra7 23.Ne4 Qxh4 24.Qd4 Rac7 25.Nf6+ Bxf6 26.exf6 Rf8 27.b3 Qh5 28.Rd1 Qf5+ 29.Ka1 h5 30.Rd8 Rc8 31.Rd6 a5 32.Bb7 Rce8 33.Re1 b4 34.Kb2 Qh3 35.Re5 a4 36.Qxb4 axb3 37.axb3 Rd8 38.Rxd8 Rxd8 39.Re2 Qf5 40.Qe7 Qd3 41.Rc2

41...Qd4+ 42.Ka2 h4

That pawn must be stopped, and the stopping may relieve Black of any pressure on his king. But, the position is complex, and there is a lot at stake. Aronian can hope to go into the last round with a 1/2 point lead. Morozevich can lift himself from sole possession of last place.

43.Rc7 Qd2+ 44.Ka3 1/2-1/2

The White king's own security appears to be decisive. This draw creates some anticipation for tomorrow's battles.

30 January 2009

Wijk aan Zee: Round Eleven

Three rounds remain in the Corus Chess 2009 tournament. In the Grandmaster A Group, five of today's seven games could have an impact on who emerges as the champion on Sunday. Levon Aronian leads and Sergei Karjakin follows him by half a point. Another half a point behind him are four players: Magnus Carlsen, Leinier Dominguez, Teymour Radjabov, and Sergei Movsesian.

There are plenty of interesting and vital battles in the Grandmaster B Group, and the GM C group, too. Nigel Short leads the B Group with five players half a point behind. In C, Tiger Hillarp Persson is half a point ahead of Wesley So.

This tournament is a potluck prepared by the greatest chefs. Every choice excludes many other exceptional possibilities. I'm a terrible sports fan because I prefer to watch only the best winners. It is hard to divert my attention from Dominguez - Aronian because Aronian is in first. A win by Dominguez cdould produce a new leader from one of the other games and put both opf these players in second. Kamsky - Karjakin is my second choice because the player of Black is in second and Kamsky is hungry. Still, I will be unable to ignore three other games: Wang - Radjabov, van Wely - Movsesian, and Morozevich - Carlsen. The players with the best chances to finish at the top mostly seem to be playing Black today.

6:32am PST, 3:30pm CET

I was up late last night because I drank a bunch of coffee at chess club where I played another French against Michael Cambareri, a high school senior that has not played much recently. In 2005, he ran over the top of my MacCutcheon, so last night I opted for the Winawer. He got in an early Nd6+ and I was struggling in an almost equal position that was tiring. Our game lasted two hours and my position collapsed on move twenty. More on that game another day. Suffice it to say, I'm bleary eyed for my virtual visit to the Netherlands this morning where the games have been underway for two hours.

Dominguez - Aronian [C88]
Corus Chess (11), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.d4 Nxd4 9.Nxd4 exd4 10.e5 Ne8 11.c3 dxc3 12.Nxc3 d6 13.Bd5 Rb8 14.Be3 Be6 15.Ba7 Bxd5 16.Bxb8 Bb7 17.Ba7 Qa8 18.exd6 Bxd6 19.Bd4 b4 20.Na4 Bxg2 21.Rxe8 Qxe8 22.Kxg2 c5 23.Be3 Qc6+ 24.f3 Re8 25.Bf2 c4

So many pieces are gone already, but queens on an open board is always beyond my search horizon, and easy for my software to mis-evaluate as well. Grandmasters are different. They understand nuances of the game that give them insight into positions such as this, and can answer the critical question: who stands better?

Kamsky - Karjakin [D02]
Corus Chess (11), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c3 c5 4.dxc5 g6 5.g3 Bg7 6.Bg2 0–0 7.0–0 Nc6 8.Qb3 Qa5 9.Qa3 Qc7 10.Bg5 Ne4 11.Be3 e5 12.Nbd2 f5 13.Rad1 Nf6 14.b4

This position looks a little more like those I'm struggling with every other month in some correspondence game or other. Kamsky's queen side pawn majority might give him something to play for in the endgame, but for now he struggles to create weaknesses in Karjakin's position. If he oversteps, the dynamism of Black's forces will become all too clear.

7:00am PST; 4:00pm CET

Dominguez - Aronian Update

26.Nb6 c3 27.bxc3 bxc3 28.Qd5 Qc7 29.Nc4

Black to move

Fritz 9 is convinced that Aronian must play Bf8; Hiarcs 12 prefers Bxh2. Both see the knight for two pawns as having White slightly more than one pawn to the good. I don't think that Aronian is in any serious danger. He has some pressure, and his additional pawns assure that he will always have threats. On the other hand, the material imbalance may warrant the claim that White stands better.

Morozevich - Carlsen Update

Chess Fans' Favorite

These players like to avoid draws, yet their game seems headed that way.

Morozevich - Carlsen [E37]
Corus Chess (11), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 Ne4 7.Qc2 c5 8.dxc5 Nc6 9.cxd5 exd5 10.e3 Bf5 11.Bd3 0–0 12.Nf3 Qa5+ 13.Nd2 Nxd2 14.Bxd2 Bxd3 15.Qxd3 Qxc5 16.Rc1 Qb6 17.0–0 Rad8 18.f4 Rfe8 19.b4 h6 20.h3 a6 21.Rc5 a5 22.Rfc1 axb4 23.axb4 Re4 24.Kh2 Rc4 25.R1xc4 dxc4 26.Qe2 Nxb4 27.Rxc4 Nd3 28.Rd4

Black to move

It's hard to imagine that the rooks will remain on the board another move. That will leave us with a queen and minor piece each and a few pawns. After Moro stops the b-pawn, Carlsen should be happy with another draw, even if his opponent languishes in last place.

28...Rxd4 29.exd4 Qxd4 30.Qe8+ Kh7 31.Qxf7 Qe4

7:43am PST; 4:43pm CET

Dominguez - Aronian Update

29...Bb4 30.Rc1 Re2

I think that move was an error. Aronian is low on time, and may have cracked. A loss will keep this event wide open for many contenders.

31.Rxc3 h6 32.Re3 Rxa2 33.Re8+ Kh7 34.Ne3 Rxf2+ 35.Kxf2 Bc3 36.Kg2 1-0

Morozevich - Carlsen Update

32.f5 Qe5+ 33.Kh1 Nf2+ 34.Kg1 Ne4 35.Bf4 Qd4+ 36.Kh2 Nf6 37.Bxh6 Qe5+ 38.Kh1 Qe1+ 39.Kh2 Ng4+ 40.hxg4 Qh4+ 41.Kg1 Qe1+ 1/2-1/2

8:31am PST; 5:31pm CET

Kamsky won!

8:40am PST; 5:40pm CET

Two games are still in progress. Both Movsesian and Radjabov apear to have a significant advantage. If they both win, four players will lead with 6 1/2: Aronian, Bominguez, Movsesian, and Radjabov. Karjakin and Carlsen are right behind with 6.

Eight points, or even seven and a half, might be enough to share first this year. And eight of the fourteen players still have a shot at 7.5. Six could finish with 8.

Movsesian won!

8:55am PST; 5:55pm CET

Standings after Eleven Rounds (Projected)
1. Aronian, Dominguez, Radjabov, Movsesian 6.5
5. Karjakin, Carlsen 6
7. Kamsky, Smeets 5.5
9. Ivanchuk, Adams, van Wely, 5
12. Wang, Stellwagen 4.5
14. Morozevich 4

Wang Yue - Teymour Radjabov is still in progress, but Radjabov appears to be winning.

9:40am PST; 6:40pm CET

Radjabov won. My projected standings above are now official. Nigel Short is solidly in first place in the B Group.

29 January 2009

Tournament Directors: Beware

And the king said, "Bring me a sword." So a sword was brought before the king. And the king said, "Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other."
I Kings 3: 24-25

The game between Teymour Radjabov and Jan Smeets yesterday had a remarkable finish. With both players in time trouble, and with Radjabov finally securing an advantage after a complex and difficult game, Radjabov knocked Smeets' bishop askew after moving his rook. He pressed his clock; Smeets immediately pressed the clock and asked Radjabov to correct the piece on his time.

The official report on the Corus Chess 2009 site states:
The game’s climax happened when as he was making his 39th move, and with only seconds on the clock for both players, Radja knocked over a piece, and pressed the clock without fixing it. Smeets restarted his opponent’s clock without making a move., Teimour then overstepped the time limit. Just before the arbiters were about to award a time win for the Dutchman (a decision that would have been sure to prompt an appeal), and upon the initiative of the arbiters, the players decided to meet half way and the game was declared a draw.
"Report of Round 10"
Further discussion of the incident should start at ChessVibes and Mark Crowther's The Week in Chess Report.

Chess Vibes has a video of the incident and the subsequent press conference.

28 January 2009

Aronian, Carlsen Win! Aronian Alone in First

Corus Chess 2009, Wijk aan Zee

Co-leader Levon Aronian showed Michael Adams, and the world, how rook endgames can be won. This victory put him alone in first place going into the last rest day because the other leaders drew or lost. Sergei Karjakin drew Loek van Wely. Co-leader Leinier Dominguez lost to Magnus Carlsen, ending the young player's winless streak. In 2008 Carlsen and Aronian shared first with eight points each. That finale remains one of several possibilities with three rounds remaining.

Standings after Ten Rounds
1. Aronian 6.5
2. Karjakin 6
3. Carlsen, Dominguez, Radjabov, Movsesian 5.5
7. van Wely, Smeets 5
9. Ivanchuk, Kamsky, Adams, Wang 4.5
13. Stellwagen 4
14.Morozevich 3.5

I'm studying the endgame in Aronian - Adams, and expect to post again this evening.

Wijk aan Zee: Round Ten

Five players contend for tournament victory in the Corus A Group in Wijk aan Zee. With four rounds to go, Levon Aronian, Sergei Karjakin, and Leinier Dominguez share the lead. Half a point behind them are Sergei Movsesian and Teymour Radjabov. There are no easy games in a tournament of this stature; the players at the bottom of the rankings are some of the world's best that are having a poor event. The top seed, Vassily Ivanchuk is tied in tenth with Gata Kamsky--who is playing a match with Veselin Topalov next month to select the World Championship challenger--and Wang Yue, who went most of 2008 without a loss.

Aronian's penultimate game in this event (Saturday) will be against Alexander Morozevich who is currently in last place, but capable of beating anyone. Today Aronian played a Catalan against Michael Adams. Things looked tense early on when the Armenian castled long. Now they are in a rook endgame in which Aronian has better pawn structure and some semblance of an initiative. As we know, however, "rook endgames are drawn," and these two players usually draw in their battles.

Sergei Karjakin is hammering away at Loek van Wely's Najdorf. The game featured the customary opposite wing castling and storms of pawns to frighten both monarchs. A win for White could give the youngest Grandmaster in history a temporary lead in this event. Van Wely is among those tied for sixth, which is far better than his performance here in recent years. Indeed, he and Jan Smeets are showing that Dutch players do not always finish at the bottom at Corus in the post-Jan Timman years. Perhaps Timman's harsh words for his countrymen last fall has given them some motivation to prove him wrong.

Magnus Carlsen shared first with Aronian last year, but neither can win nor lose this year, it seems. He has White today against the third of the current event leaders: the Cuban player Dominguez. Dominguez played a Grunfeld and now has a bishop pair against a knight and bishop with the heavy pieces still on the board. But, the queenside pawns for both players have been liquidated, and that might favor the young Norwegian's horse. With so many pieces remaining, however, tactical considerations come first. Either player can create threats that the other must parry.

I don't know what to say about Radjabov's game against Smeets. It appears to have come from some sort of offbeat English. Smeet's pieces seem a bit hemmed in around his king, and the players are at move fifteen nearly three hours into the game. The clock may prove decisive if they don't decide on one of those accursed grandmaster draws.

Wang Yue played a Petroff (Russian Defense) against former leader Movsesian, and the game was drawn in 22 moves.

Movsesian - Wang Yue [D20]
Corus Chess (10), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.c4 c6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.d4 Be7 8.h3 d5 9.Bd3 0–0 10.0–0 dxc4 11.Bxc4 Nbd7 12.Re1 Nb6 13.Bb3 Nfd5 14.Bc2 Bf6 15.a3 Be6 16.Ne5 g6 17.Ne4 Bg7 18.Bg5 Qc7 19.Bh4 Rae8 20.Nc5 Nd7 21.Bg3 Bxe5 22.Bxe5 ½–½

I may be able to update this post with the results during lunch four hours from now. As unemployment in the world grows to levels not seen in decades, and that some fear might reach proportions last seen in the 1930s, I am not yet unemployed. Today is a full day of work that keeps me away from my computer. Life could be much worse: I'm teaching chess in classrooms today. The older youth in one school will be battling it out on their chess ladder, and a few might challenge me for a lesson. In another school, I'll be teaching first graders how bishops and rooks move. Then, there's the after school club where my scholastic chess activities began when my son (a few months younger than the Carlsen boy) was a third grader there.

27 January 2009

Wijk aan Zee: Round Nine

In the Corus Chess Tournament, Grandmaster A Group in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, Sergei Movsesian leads after eight rounds. He is the fifth seed, and the tenth highest on the FIDE rating list. His recent move into the top ten results from rapid improvement in his performance. He won the Corus B Group in 2008, earning entry into this year's A Group. At the time he was number 42 on the FIDE rating list. In January 2007, he was number 74. His rating crossed 2700 for the first time in July 2008.

Current Standings
1. Sergei Movsesian 5
2. Levon Aronian, Sergei Karjakin, Leinier Dominguez, Teymour Radjabov 4 ½
6. Magnus Carlsen, Loek van Wely, Gata Kamsky, Michael Adams, Jan Smeets 4
11. Daniel Stellwagen, Vassily Ivanchuk, Wang Yue 3 ½
14. Alexander Morozevich 2 ½

I'm following several games as they unfold today: Karjakin - Movsesian and Kamsky - Aronian are both between players still in contention. Dominguez - Stillwagen and Morozevich - Radjabov both pit a potential leader against a player near the bottom of the standings. With five rounds to play, no player is completely out of the running, but it is unlikely that tail-ender Morozevich will win five straight. Even if he does, 7 ½ might be good enough for third place, but not first.

Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, and Leinier Dominguez have yet to lose a game in this event. Carlsen and Daniel Stellwagen are the only players without a win.

Dominguez had a supported passed pawn already by move nine against Stellwagen. But, that's a frequent concession Black makes in the French Winawer.

Dominguez - Stellwagen [C18]
Corus Chess (9), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 Nbc6 11.f4 Bd7 12.Qd3 dxc3 13.Rb1 0–0–0 14.Nxc3 Na5 15.h3 Kb8 16.g4 Rc8 17.Nb5 Bxb5 18.Rxb5

Aronian's king moved thrice in the first eighteen moves against Kamsky, but that's not terribly unusual in the Berlin Defense in the Spanish Opening (or Ruy Lopez).

Kamsky - Aronian [C67]
Corus Chess (9), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 h6 10.b3 a5 11.a4 Be6 12.Ne2 Bd5 13.Rd1 Kc8 14.Ne1 g5 15.Bb2 Bg7 16.Nd3 b6 17.f3 Kb7 18.Kf2 Be6 19.g4

Radjabov's Grunfeld has produced symmetrical pawns and clerics against Morozevich, and perhaps transposed into an English; Moro's only draw so far in the event was in the game against Michael Adams.

Morozevich - Radjabov [D73]
Corus Chess (9), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 c5 5.Bg2 cxd4 6.Nxd4 0–0 7.0–0 d5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nb5 Be6 10.N1c3 Nxc3 11.Nxc3 Nc6 12.Qa4 Qb6N 13.Qa3 Rfd8 14.Be3 Qa5 15.Qxa5 Nxa5 16.Rac1

Movsesian struggles to maintain his lead against Karjakin with a Sicilian Scheveningen.

Karjakin - Movsesian [B80]
Corus Chess (9), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 Be7 8.Qd2 0–0 9.g4 d5 10.g5 Nxd4 11.Qxd4 Nh5 12.0–0–0 Bxg5 13.Kb1 Kh8 14.Bxg5 Qxg5 15.Rg1 Qf4 16.Qc5 Bd7 17.exd5 Nf6 18.Bh3 exd5

Ready for Bets?

5:54am PST; 2:54pm CET

Of these four games, Dominguez - Stillwagen appears to offer the best prospects of a decisive result, but I would not put any money on it.

Morozevich - Radjabov Update

16...Rac8 17.Bxa7 Rd2 18.b4 Bxc3 19.bxa5 Bxa5 20.Bxb7 Rxc1 21.Rxc1 Rd7 22.Rb1 Bxa2 23.Rb2 Bc3 24.Rxa2 ½-½

There's no symmetry and a bit more fight in the Grunfeld I have going against a fellow blogger on one of those turn-based sites. That is not to say there is nothing we patzers cannot learn from this short grandmaster draw. Nor am I as convinced as many commentators that draconian measures are warranted to prevent top players from desisting from conflict in positions they deem not worth fighting about.

Let me put it another way: Radjabov played aggressively as Black, pieces came off rapidly. After 24 moves, these grandmasters, who are so good they can play me and thirty others of my strength simultaneously and win most if not all, reached a position that I can hold eight out of ten times against a computer that can beat them. The position may not be a "dead draw", but only an egregious blunder of the sort grandmasters do not make (well, usually not) can offer either player a slim chance of victory.

Kamsky - Aronian Update

19...Ne7 20.Ng3 Rhd8 21.h3 c5 22.f4 c4 23.bxc4 Bxc4 24.f5 Nc6 25.e6

25...Bf8 26.exf7 Bxf7 27.Ne4 Bc4 28.Bf6 Re8 29.Kf3 Ka7 30.Ndf2 Ba6 31.h4?! gxh4 32.Bxh4

Carlsen remains undefeated in this year's Corus tournament

Adams - Carlsen [B70]
Corus Chess (9), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0–0 0–0 8.Re1 Bg4 9.f3 Bd7 10.Be3 Nc6 11.a4 Ne5 12.Bf1 Rc8 13.a5 a6 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.exd5 Nc4 16.Bxc4 Rxc4 17.c3 Re8 18.Nc2 Ra4 19.Bb6 Rxa1 20.Qxa1 Qc8 21.Ne3 e5 22.dxe6 Rxe6 23.Qd1 Qe8 24.Kf2 Qe7 25.g3 Qg5 26.Qd5 Qxd5 27.Nxd5 Rxe1 28.Kxe1 Kf8 ½–½

7:30am PST; 4:30pm CET

Karjakin - Movsesian Update

19.Bxd7 Nxd7 20.Qxd5 Nf6 21.Qxb7 Qxh2 22.Ne4 Nxe4 23.Qxe4 Rad8 24.a4 Qc7 25.Rxd8 Rxd8 26.Rg5 g6 27.Rb5 Rd1+ 28.Ka2 Rd7 29.c4 Kg7 30.c5 a6 31.c6

31... axb5 32.cxd7 Qxd7 33.Qe5+ Kf8 34.axb5 h5 35.Kb3 Kg8 36.b6 h4 37.Qc7 Qd1+ 38.Kb4 Qe1+ 39.Kb5 Qe2+ 40.Ka5 Qd2+

They continue to slug it out in a queen and pawn endgame with plenty of passed pawns. This could be one of those games when the players are happy that many chess sets come with four queens. No upside-down rooks will be needed here.

White to move

8:15am PST; 5:15pm CET

8:27am Prediction

At the end of this round, three players will be tied for first: Movsesian, Aronian, and Dominguez with 5 ½ each.

Kamsky - Aronian Update

32...Bb7 33.Kf4 Nb4 34.c4

34...Na6 35.Nc3 Bc6 36.Nfe4 Nc5 37.Nf6 Re7 38.Nh5 Rf7 39.Nb5+ Kb7 40.Ra2 Re8 41.Nf6 Ree7 42.Nd4

Black (Aronian) has better pawn structure and a bishop pair: two advantages in the late middlegame. He still has much work to press the advantage, but a win puts him in a share of the lead. Moreover, a win with Black always confers certain psychological advantages, especially going into the late rounds.

42...Bxa4 43.Rxa4 Bg7

The bishop pair is gone, but now Black has an outside passed pawn. Aronian exchanged one advantage for another. Hiarcs 12 has -0.98.

44.Nh5 Re4+ 45.Kf3 Bxd4 46.Ra3 Rxf5+ 47.gxf5 Rxh4 48.Ng3 a4

"Wheee! The rabbit's free, all the way to the other side!!" Fritz

49.Ra2 Be5 50.Rd5

Black to move

How to Excite a Patzer

I'm watching Kamsky - Aronian, considering the implications of White's last move. I see the line 50...Bxg3 51.Kxg3 R move and 52.Kxc5 and I think a draw becomes likely. Then, I decide that Aronian must play 50...Bd6 to maintain the tension and the advantage. And he does!

50...Bd6 51.Rxd6 cxd6 52.f6

Hiarcs 12 has -2.03

The players have been at the boards for nearly five hours. I've been watching a bit over four: spectating has not prevented my playing taxi driver for my son to school, my wife to work, and finding a few moments for some of my work, much of which is done from home in front of a computer.

52...Ne6 53.Rxa4 Rf4+ 54.Ke3 Rxf6 55.Ra1 Ng5 56.Ne2 Rf3+ 57.Kd4 Kc6

Aronian removes Kamsky's most significant threat for counterplay, but the evaluation of Hiarcs 12 drops to -1.55.

9:38am PST; 6:38pm CET

A bit over an hour ago, I predicted that three players would be tied in first at the end of play today. These three are still playing. My analysis engines still see an advantage for Dominguez and Aronian, and equality for Movsesian: the results needed to mark my prediction prescient.

Okay, Hiarcs 12 actually sees 0.98 in favor of Karjakin, but the engine is not to be believed in queen endgames, or at least, an alleged one pawn advantage in such endgames really is equality. Both Dominguez and Aronian, however, have an advantage the engine evaluates at 1.80. Dominguez is ahead a pawn in a rook and pawn endgame (often drawish), but the pawns are all connected and his king is closer.

Dominguez - Stellwagen Update

18...a6 19.Rb1 Nc4 20.Qc3 d4 21.Qxd4 Rgd8 22.Qxc4 Qa5+ 23.Qb4 Qd5 24.Be3 Qf3 25.Qxb7+ Qxb7 26.Rxb7+ Kxb7 27.Bd3 Nd5 28.Bd2 Nc3 29.Kf2 Rd4 30.Ke3 Ra4 31.Bxc3 Rxc3 32.h4 Raxa3 33.Kd4 Rc8 34.h5 Ra4+ 35.Ke3 a5 36.h6 Rb4 37.g5 a4 38.h7 Rh8 39.Ra1 Kb6 40.c3 Rb3 41.Rxa4 Rxc3 42.Kd2 Rxd3+ 43.Kxd3 Rxh7 44.Ra8 Kb7

45.Ra1 Rh3 46.Ke2 Rc3 47.Rh1 Kc8 48.Rh7 Rc7 49.g6 fxg6 50.Rxc7 Kxc7 51.Kf3 1-0

Hiarcs 12 says checkmate in twenty.

Kamsky - Aronian Update

58.Ra8 Rf8 59.Ra7 Ne6+ 60.Ke3 Rf5 61.Rh7

Hiarcs 12: -2.02

I Was Wrong: Nostradamus Can Keep His Job

Karjakin - Movsesian Update

41.b4 Qa2+ 42.Kb5 Qe2+ 43.Qc4 Qe8+ 44.Qc6 Qe2+ 45.Kc5 Qf2+ 46.Kd6 Qg3+ 47.Kd7 h3 48.b7 h2 49.Qc8+

49...Kg7 50.b8Q Qxb8 51.Qxb8 h1Q 52.Qe5+ Kg8 53.Qd5 Qh3+ 54.Kc7 Qh2+ 55.Kb7 Qh5 56.Kc6 Qh3 57.Kb7 Qh5 58.Qc6 Kg7 59.b5 Qe5 60.b6 g5 61.Kc8 Qf5+ 62.Kd8 Qa5 63.Qd6 Qa8+ 64.Kc7 Qxf3 65.b7 Qc3+ 66.Kd7 Qh3+ 67.Kd8 Qh8+ 68.Kc7 1-0

Movsesian could not hold the position.

Movsesian drops from the lead; Karjakin joins Dominguez, and Aronian might yet be among them by day's end. The Corus Chess 2009 Grandmaster A Group is wide open. Nearly half of the players still have a reasonable chance to win.

Back to Kamsky - Aronian

61...Re5+ 62.Kd2 h5 63.Rh6 Kc5 64.Kd3 Kb4 65.Ng3

Hiarcs 12: -2.24

10:25am PST; 7:25pm CET

65...Nf4+ 66.Kd4 Rc5 67.Rxd6 Rxc4+ 68.Ke3 b5 69.Rd1

Hiarcs 12: -2.45

69...Ng2+ 70.Kf3 Nh4+ 71.Ke2 Rc2+ 72.Kf1 Ng2 73.Rb1+ Kc4 74.Nf5 b4 75.Kg1 Kc5 76.Ra1 b3 77.Ra5+ Kb4 78.Ra7 Nf4

They've been playing six and one half hours.

79.Rb7+ Kc3 80.Ne3 Rc1+ 0-1

Bravo Aronian!

Current Standings
1. Levon Aronian, Sergei Karjakin, Leinier Dominguez 5 ½
4. Sergei Movsesian, Teymour Radjabov 5
6. Magnus Carlsen, Loek van Wely, Michael Adams, Jan Smeets 4 ½
10. Gata Kamsky, Vassily Ivanchuk, Wang Yue 4
13. Daniel Stellwagen 3 ½
14. Alexander Morozevich 3

25 January 2009

Wijk aan Zee: Round Eight

Sergei Movsesian from Slovakia is one of the new stars in international chess. He is currently tied for first with Ukrainian Sergei Karjakin, the youngest grandmaster in history, after his victory over Vassily Ivanchuk yesterday. Today, Karjakin has Black against Ivanchuk; Movsesian has White against Jan Smeets, who also lost yesterday.

Mig Greengard explains in "Movsesian the Real Deal in Wijk aan Zee" how his faint praise of Movsesian was taken as criticism. He won the B group last year, and then shot up to number 10 on the rating list. Greengard asks, "has anyone else entered the top 10 for the first time after turning 30? In the last decade?"

Smeets is playing the Russian Defense. It has the reputation for being drawish, which makes it a sensible choice against a player that is hot.

Movsesian - Smeets [C42]
Corus Chess (8), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.c4 Nc6 6.d3 Nf6 7.d4 Bg4 8.Be2 d5 9.c5 Be7 10.0–0 0–0 11.Be3 Ne4 12.Nc3 Bf6 Novelty

White to move

13.h3 Bh5 14.Qa4 Re8

Karjakin is playing a Sicilian Najdorf, a good choice for a player wanting to win with Black.

Ivanchuk - Karjakin [B92]
Corus Chess (8), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.0–0 0–0 9.Be3 Be6 10.Qd2 Nbd7 11.a4 Qc7 12.Rfd1 Rac8 13.a5 Nc5 14.Nxc5 dxc5 15.Qe1 Rfd8 16.Rxd8+ Rxd8 17.f3 c4 18.Na4 Nd7 19.Qc3 Novelty

Black to move

19...f6 20.b3 Rc8 21.b4 Qc6 22.Qa3 f5

6:34am PDT, 3:34pm CET

If the Playchess game clocks are any where close to accurate, Karjakin's 22...f5 came after a long think, and Ivanchuk has lots of time.

Movsesian is ahead on the clock, and answered Smeet's 14...Re8 quickly.

Movsesian - Smeets

15.Rfe1 Qd7 16.Ne5 Nxe5 17.Qxd7 Nxd7 18.Bxh5 c6 19.Bg4 Nf8 20.Ne2 g6

White to move

21.g3 Re7 22.h4 Rae8

Perhaps Ivanchuk will manage his time today.

Ivanchuk - Karjakin

23.b5 axb5 24.Qxe7 bxa4 25.Rd1 Nf8

They are blitzing these moves

26.Rd6 Re8 27.Rxc6 Rxe7 28.Bc5

Ivanchuk appears to have compensation for the pawn, but no significant advantage. He does remain ahead on the clock with a dozen moves to go to make the time control.

Black to move

28...Rd7 29.Rb6 fxe4

7:35am PST; 4:35 CET

Ivanchuk seems determined to put Movsesian in the lead for the rest day. Of course, Movsesian must do some work of his own.

Movsesian - Smeets

23.Rad1 Bg7 24.Kg2 h5 25.Bf3 Kh7 26.Nc1 Nf6 27.Nb3 Ng8 28.Kf1 Nh6 29.Bxh6 Kxh6 30.Rxe7 Rxe7

Where the theory runs deeper, as in the Spanish and several lines of the Sicilian, the players get closer to the first time control before they need to think. Movsesian - Smeets departed early, and we may be in for a blitz demonstration.

According to the Playchess clocks, Movsesian has eight minutes to fifteen for Smeets. Fritz 9 thinks that Smeets has a slight advantage.

White to move

31.Rd3 Ne6 32.Bg2 1/2-1/2

Ivanchuk - Karjakin

30.fxe4 c3

Ivanchuk may have the advantage here, but he's now slightly behind on the clocks. The players will need to fire off a move per minute to reach the control.

31.Kf2 Ba2 32.a6 bxa6 33.Rb8 Rf7+ 34.Ke3 g6 35.Bd6 Rf6 36.Rd8 a3 37.Bxa3 Kg7 38.Bd6 Rf7 39.Bxe5 Kh6 40.Bxa6 Ne6 41.Rc8 1-0

Ivanchuk made the time control, scored his second win, and thrust Movsesian into the lead. Levon Aronian is still playing with a bishop and two pawns against Loek van Wely's rook. If the bishop can escort a pawn past the danger, he can catch catch Movsesian today.

Aronian - van Wely

after 42.Ke1

Black to move

42...Rc7 43.Bd8 Rxc5 44.e7 Rc1+ 45.Kf2 Rc2+ 46.Kf3 Re2 47.Bxa5

I think the game will end as a draw. Black's king is better positioned. The rook and king will stop the queenside pawns, ending Aronian's threat to join Movsesian in the lead. Loek van Wely's rook is not enough to make any progress, however. The bishop can hold White's position.

47...Rxe7 48.Bxb4 Re4 49.Bc3 Rxa4 50.Kg4 1/2-1/2

More than three hours ago, when I started this post, I typed the name Sergei Movsesian. He is now in sole lead in Corus for the next forty-eight hours, at least. Nostradamus was never that specific! But, neither did he get help from Mig Greengard.

24 January 2009


I found this video thanks to a link from SonofPearl on Chess.com.

Update to Chesstiger's question in the comments below:

The video was produced by Krzymowski Chess TV Production. In the list on their website, the video embedded here is Swedish Chess. That doesn't answer the name of the tournaments, but it tells you who knows.

Sleeping In: Wijk aan Zee, Round Seven

Chess players, I'm told, are night owls. They play chess until the wee hours of the morning, then sleep until noon. Grandmaster chess tournaments usually begin in the late afternoon. The Corus Chess event in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, starts early compared to some. Play begins at 1:30pm CET.

That's 4:30am PST. To watch the games live, as I've been doing, means rising early or missing the beginning. I slept in this morning. By the time I logged in to Playchess after 8:00am PST, several games were finished. The remaining games are endgame battles.

Vassily Ivanchuk lost again, this time to Sergei Movsesian. Micahel Adams - Teymour Radjabov was drawn, as was Sergei Karjakin - Levon Aronian, Leinier Dominguez - Wang Yue, and Loek van Wely - Magnus Carlsen.

But Gata Kamsky has a pig, Jan Smeets has a knight and bishop to hold a one pawn deficit against a pair of clerics, and in the GM B group Nigel Short has a knight and slightly better pawns to Rustam Kasimdzhanov's bishop and pawns.

Kamsky - Stellwagen, after 46.Kh2

Black to move

46...Qc7+ 47.Kg2 Qc5

Morozevich - Smeets, after 45.Bg4

Black to move

45...Nc4 46.Bc3 Nd6 47.Bf3 Bf2 48.Bd2 Nc4 49.Bxd5 1-0

Short - Kasimdzhanov, after 42.Ng3

Black to move

42...Kg6 43.Ke4 Bd6 44.Nf5 Bc5 45.Nh4+

So, I have two endgames to make sense of while they are in progress and my morning caffeine begins to do its work.

Short - Kasimdzhanov, after 45.Nh4

Black to move

My engine tells me that White has a decisive advantage, but I don't see how Short's forces will be able to break through and make any further progress. It is much easier for a bishop to put a knight in zugzwang than the other way around.

45...Kg7 46.Nf3 f6

Wait! That's a pawn move. Was it forced? Does it improve Black's defensive resources?

It's time for me to make a second pot of coffee.

47.Nd2 Bb6

White to move

48.Kf5 Kf7

Black has weaknesses at f6 and a5, but the knight cannot attack both at once. Perhaps the pawn on c6 is the key top the position?

Meanwhile, Gata Kamsky has won Daniel Stellwagen's rook.

Kamsky - Stellwagen, after 47...Qc5

White to move

48.Rf4 Qd5+ 49.Kh2 Qd2+ 50.Rf2 Qd5 51.gxh5 Qxh5 52.Qe7 Qh6 53.Kg3

Black to move


This looks like an an error.

54.Qxf8 Qe3+ 55.Kg2 Qe4+

Stellwagen's plan is simple: keep the White king in check. Does it work?

56.Rf3 Qe2+ 57.Kg3 Qe5+ 58.Kf2 Qb2+ 59.Ke3 Qe5+ 60.Kd3 Qd5+ 61.Kc2 Qa2+ 62.Kc3 Qa1+ 63.Kc4 Qa6+

While my attention was diverted towards Kamsky's king playing Odysseus, Short - Kasimdzhanov ended:

49.Nb3 Kg7 50.c4 1-0

The c-pawn is the target. Black cannot hold.

Kamsky - Stellwagen, after 63...Qa6+

White to move

64.Kc3 Qa1+

Where will Kamsky's wandering king find security so that his superior army can get on with the victory?

65.Kb3 Qb1+ 66.Ka4 Qe4 67.Qb4 Qa6+

Hiarcs 12 says the game is a draw. Have they repeated the position? Did Stellwagen's intuition tell him something that remains out of reach of silicon computational possibilities: the White king will find no safety after the rook falls?

They have not repeated the position, but perhaps they will.

68.Kb5 Qb7+ 69.Ka5 Qa7+ 70.Kb5 Qb7+ 71.Kc4 Qe4+ 1/2-1/2

When I started watching this battle two hours ago, my kibitzer had Kamsky ahead by morethan two pawns. Hiarcs 12 is the latest commercial version for PCs of the best engine behind Rybka. As all engines do, it measures positional considerations in pawns. After Stellwagen moved his queen to c1, giving up the rook, the evaluation shot up to more than eight pawns--almost a queen. Yet, Kamsky's wandering king found no security from the dark lady.

Today's lesson:

Do not believe the engines.

23 January 2009

Corus 2009: Follow the Leaders

In the Corus Grandmaster A Group in Wijk aan Zee, Sergey Karjakin is half a point ahead of four others after five rounds. Round six in is progress, and he has Black against Magnus Carlsen. Former FIDE World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov leads GM Group B, also with 3.5 of 5. Today, he has White against Fabiano Caruana. Six players are half a point behind. Swedish Grandmaster Tiger Hillarp leads the C Group with 4.0 and is playing White against Abhijeet Gupta. Wesley So has 3.5 and is alone in second in the C Group.

Round six is not yet the mid-point, so much can still happen. Indeed, no player is theoretically unable to win his or her section. But some are playing better than others, and starting with two or three losses in five games leaves minimal hope.

Among those close behind Karjakin in the A Group, Jan Smeets and Leinier Dominguez took their game one move longer than the game they followed for twenty-one moves.

Smeets - Dominguez [B92]
Corus Chess (6), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Bg5 Be6 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.Qd3 Nc6 11.0–0–0 Qb6 12.Qxd6 Be7 13.Nd5 Bxd5 14.Qxd5 Rd8 15.Qc4 Rxd1+ 16.Rxd1 Qxf2 17.Rf1 Qe3+ 18.Kb1 0–0 19.Bg4 g6 20.Bd7 Nd4 21.Nxd4

Black to move


21...Qxd4 22.Qxd4 ½–½ Stellwagen,D-L'Ami,E, Hilversum 2008

22.Qd3 Kg7 23.a3 ½–½

Levon Aronian may have a slight edge in his game, not least because he is twenty minutes ahead on the clock against Vassily Ivanchuk. At least Ivanchuk now has the notoriously stupid drug testing fiasco behind him and can concentrate on the games.

Teymour Radjabov's 5.Nc5 against Gata Kamsky's Caro-Kann is a rare move, but my Master Trends opening book shows a 56% score and higher resulting Elo performance than the vastly more popular 5.Ng3. He appears to have built a slight edge from there, so I'll return to that game shortly.

Karjakin is struggling to hold on to his lead as Carlsen is pressing an advantage. Perhaps, today, he'll show us the winning ways that thrust him to the top five in 2008. He is a future world champion, IMHO. While flapping my jaws at chess club last night, I predicted by age 25 he'll reach that rare summit. A win today will add some confidence to such speculation.

Kasimdzhanov seems to be making some progress against Carauna's Slav.

Beat the Devil

Someone nicknamed the Caro-Kann "the Devil's Opening," perhaps because Garry Kasparov could get nowhere against it in his World Chess Championship matches against Anatoly Karpov. A few years ago, Chess Base News presented an annotated game allegedly played between God and the Devil. God opted for the Panov-Botvinnik Attack, but Radjabov today went for an obscure line in the classical.

Of course, for an American, Kamsky is not the Devil, even if he plays the Evil One's opening. Kamsky is America's hope for greatness in chess on the world stage, and the world's hope for taking down Veselin Topalov in their upcoming match to select a challenger to Anand for the next World Championship.

Radjabov - Kamsky [B18]
Corus Chess (6), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Nc5

Black to move

5...b6 6.Nb3 e6 7.Nf3 Nf6 8.g3

Black to move

8...a5 led to quick victory for White in Kasimdzhanov - Al Modiahki, Doha 2006

8...Nbd7 9.Bg2 Qc7 10.0–0 Rd8 11.Qe2 Bd6 12.Re1 The novelty.

Black to move

12...0–0 13.Nh4 Bg4 14.Qc4 Nd5 15.Bg5 Rc8 16.a4

Black to move

16...b5 17.Qd3 N7b6 18.Nc5 h6 19.Bd2 Nc4 20.axb5 cxb5 21.h3 Bh5 22.Bxd5 exd5 23.Bc3 Rfe8 24.b3 Ne5 25.Qxb5 Bxc5 26.Qxc5 Qd7 27.Qxa7 Qxa7 28.Rxa7

The rook needs some lipstick!

Black to move

29...Nf3+ 29.Nxf3 Bxf3 30.Rxe8+ Rxe8 31.b4

... and the live feed appears to have failed.

When the feed is restored, the game is over.

31...Bd1 32.Ra2 Rc8 33.b5 Rb8 34.Rb2 f6 35.Ba5 Be2 36.b6 Rb7 37.Rb1 Kf7 38.Bd2 g5 39.Bc1 Bf3 40.Ba3 Be4 41.Bd6 1-0

The players have made the time control, and White's passed pawn is well protected by the bishop. Hence White's active rook will rule the board while Black's must try to hold back the b-pawn. Kamsky resigned.

Aronian - Ivanchuk drew in 56 moves.

Kasimdzhanov - Caruana drew in 62 moves.

Carlsen - Karjakin continues with two rooks each, and White's two pawns to Black's one. If Carlsen pulls off a win here, it will be one for the endgame books.

10:02am PST

I don't see that Carlsen has any advantage after 73 moves, but the kid is a lot better than me, and Karjakin is running out of time.

10:07am PST

Karjakin's clock on the Playchess server showed two minutes, then zero, and now fifteen, all to Carlsen's thirty or more. These are not the official clocks.

10:12am PST

A pair of pawns came off the board, and rooks soon will. The players agreed to a draw after 79 moves.

22 January 2009

Wijk aan Zee: Round Five

Chess is a spectator sport. It may not have the draw of baseball or soccer or even golf, but thousands of enthusiasts around the globe are watching the games in Wijk aan Zee as they are played. Wijk aan Zee has hosted a strong tournament annually since 1938, missing only 1945 during the Second World War. The tournament was created and sponsored by the Hoogovens Steelworks from its inception until the Corus Group was created through a merger with British Steel. Corus has continued as the lead sponsor.

Television was made for American football. The game's frequent breaks in the action is perfect for Ford and Budweiser commercials, and TV cameras give the best view of the action.

The internet was made for chess. The official Corus Chess 2009 site incorporates a Java viewer for following the games live. The games are also broadcast through the Playchess server and many other chess playing sites.

I only need decide which game or games to follow. There are three grandmaster groups with fourteen players each. That's twenty-one games between players who are mostly among the top one hundred in the world. In the Corus A Group, half of the world's top ten are competing. Today the top two seeds are playing each other: Vassily Ivanchuk (number 3 on the FIDE rating list) and Magnus Carlsen (number 4).

Certainly their game, a closed Spanish, bears watching. But what else?

Jan Smeets opted for the Russian Defense (aka Petroff) against Michael Adams. In the B Group, Nigel Short is facing Krishnan Sasikiran's Sicilian. Italian Fabiano Caruana is also playing a Sicilian against Ukranian Zahar Efimenko in the B group. Back in the A group, the queens came off early in Sergei Movsesian's Slav Defense against Levon Aronian. The American Gata Kamsky, a former Soviet junior champion that moved to the United States in 1989, is playing White against Wang Yue's Russian Defense. Teymour Radjabov opted for the King's Indian Defense against Loek van Wely. More Sicilians are being played in Sergei Karjakin - Daniel Stellwagen and Leinier Dominguez - Alexander Morozevich in A, and in Alexander Motylev - Francisco Vallejo Pons in the B Group.

It's a day for king's pawn openings.

While I try to watch more than I can process, Ivanchuk - Carlsen ends in a draw.

Final position; White to move

The Decision

I've selected two games to follow more closely.

Kamsky - Wang Yue [C42]
Corus Chess (5), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nc4 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Ne3 Nc6 7.c3 Nf6 8.Bd3 Bd6 9.Nf5 0–0 10.0–0 Ne7 11.Nxd6 Qxd6 12.Qc2 Re8 13.Na3 c6 14.Bg5 Ng6 15.Rfe1 Bd7 16.f3 Nh5 17.Bxg6 hxg6 18.Qd2 Nf6 19.Bf4 Qf8 20.Be5

20...Nh7 21.Nc2 f6 22.Bg3 Qf7 23.Nb4 g5 24.a4 Bf5 1/2-1/2

Aronian - Movsesian [D15]
Corus Chess (5), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.a4 e6 6.g3 dxc4 7.Bg2 c5 8.dxc5 Qxd1+ 9.Nxd1 Nc6 10.Ne3 Bxc5 11.Nxc4 Ke7 12.0–0 Nd5 13.Rd1 f6 14.Nfd2 Rd8 15.Nb3 Ba7 16.Nca5 Rb8 17.Nxc6+ bxc6 18.Na5 Bd7 19.b3 Bc5 20.Bd2 Bb4 21.Rac1

21...Rdc8 22.Bxb4+ Nxb4 23.f4

Hiarcs 12 sees an advantage of nearly one pawn for Aronian. White's bishop has a bit more scope, his king appears further from danger, and Black has two isolated pawns. But the backwards b-pawn gives Black some play, too.

23...c5 24.Kf2 Rc7 25.Rc3

Okay, White can double rooks on the c-file to put some pressure on the isolated pawn. When Black also doubles his rooks in defense, the White knight might move a5-c4-b6. Is that enough for advantage? Does White have a better plan?


White will not get a bishop against a knight, which was part of my fantasy scenario.

26.Rdc1 Kd6

The king is a fighting piece. At least he can take care of himself, and a vulnerable farmer. I think that Hiarcs 12 is too optimistic for White. The advantage has dropped from 0.86 to 0.63 according to the silicon beast, but I think Movsesian is secure and the game may be drawn soon.

27.Re3 Bf7 28.Bh3

Perhaps the Black king will get overworked defending peons.

Black to move

Sometimes the live feed creates gaps in coverage, although these are less frequent than they were a few years ago. This game stalled for a bit, and now Playchess has it up-to-date again.

28...Ke7 29.Re4 g6 30.Rec4 Kd6 31.Bg2 Nd5 32.h4 Nb4 33.g4

It does appear that Aronian is finding the way towards progress. The White pieces have more mobility and play is taking place all over the board as pawns move forward. Will it be enough for victory?

33...h6 34.g5 hxg5 35.hxg5 fxg5 36.fxg5 Nd5 37.Rh1 Rb4

White to move

Clocks are nearing zero.

38.Rh8 Ke7 39.Be4 e5 40.Rh7 Kd6

The players have made the time control and get another hour on the clocks. Aronian appears to have a substantial positional advantage due to weaknesses in Black's pawn structure and more mobile White pieces. He must build the pressure until Movsesian realizes there is no point in continuing.

Black is almost in zugzwang.


Increasing the mobility of the bishop.


Black can shuffle the king back and forth while White seeks new targets. White has a decisive advantage.

42.Bd3 Rb8 43.Rc1

Black to move

The bishop's targets: a6 and d5.

43...Be8 44.Rch1 Rxh7 45.Rxh7 Nb4

Does Black have a fortress?

46.Be4 Rd8

White to move


Improve your weakest piece.


Movsesian wants to trade minor pieces perhaps, because, "In rook endings the weaker side generally has some chances of a draw right up to the very end" (Tarrasch). See "Okay, Not So Easy."

48.Bxg6 Rf8+

Perhaps Black sees a chance for a bunch of checks that can force a repetition. All Black's pieces look to be coming active and aim at the White king.

49.Ke2 Bf3+ 50.Ke1 e4 51.Rh6 Nd3+ 52.Kd2 Ke7

White to move

53.Kc3 Rd8 54.Rh7+ Ke6 55.Rc7 Rh8

The players are nearing the second time control.

56.Bh7 Nb4 57.Rxc5

Knights are better than bishops.

57...Nd5 58.Rxd5 Kxd5 1-0

Pawns are better than rooks!

A nice lesson from Aronian. 1.d4 is "best by test". Not only did Aronian win this slow grind, but van Wely's Bayonet Attack brought victory against Radjabov's KID.