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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Carlsen, Ivanchuk Press Conference

This is it: Vassily Ivanchuk and Magnus Carlsen press conference video after the World No. 1's loss to the Ukrainian Grandmaster.









Candidates R12: Carlsen-Ivanchuk 0-1

In a dramatic 12th round Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) took over the lead from Magnus Carlsen (Norway) at the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament in London. The former World Champion beat Levon Aronian (Armenia) while Carlsen suffered his first loss against Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine). The other two games, between Boris Gelfand (Israel) and Peter Svidler (Russia) and Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia), were drawn. With the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament entering its decisive phase, chess fans from all over the world will focus on London this Easter weekend. So far the tournament website has been visited by over half a million fans, even before the start of the 12th round! And every day the organizers are receiving dozens of emails. Christian from Germany wrote on Friday morning: “All of you are doing a marvellous job! Thanks to Socar, thanks to you, and thanks to Laurence and Nigel and everyone else making this fantastic event.”


In what was a truly dramatic round, for the first time all games went beyond move 40. Boris Gelfand and Peter Svidler, however, agreed to a draw immediately after the time control. Gelfand was happy with his position out of the opening, an Anti-Grünfeld. He said he knew that it’s “difficult to defend for Black”. Svidler agreed: “It’s a structure I’m not comfortable playing.” Making matters worse with the inaccurate 20…Red8 and 21…Bg7, Svidler was looking at an unpleasant position around move 30. “I’m kind of running out of moves. To call it a Zugzwang position is an overstatement but it’s very difficult for me to make moves.” Gelfand, however, missed a tactic with his 32nd move (he should have played 32.Qb3) when the worst was over for Black. “I thought I was winning a piece,” said the Israeli grandmaster.

Aronian-Kramnik, on paper the Big Game of this round, became an absolute thriller, an “epic battle”, as Kramnik called it himself. It started as a Semi-Tarrasch and Aronian, who had to play for a win in this game, chose the modest 6.e3. It could have transposed into a Panov Caro-Kann, but with 10…f5 Kramnik took a different and quite original path. About this move, commentator IM Lawrence Trent said: “It’s like marmite, either you love it you don’t like it at all!”


On move 16 the game became extremely sharp, and every move was crucial. As became clear at the press conference, the players evaluated the position after 17.Rc5 quite differently. Aronian: “Honestly speaking I thought I was close to winning.” Kramnik: “Really? I thought I was close to winning!” The Armenian actually saw the line 21.Rh5 Rac8 22.Ne5 which draws (missed by Kramnik) but thought he had more. In that phase, according to some pundits Aronian “self-destructed”.

Kramnik then missed the strongest continuation (21…Qf4). Instead he went for a promising ending, which he said was “technically winning of course”. However, by exchanging rooks at the right moment, Aronian found a way to draw it, based on the fact that he could exchange all the pawns on the kingside after which Black would end up with a bishop of the wrong colour. This was a “cold shower” for Kramnik, who said it was “a miracle” that he still had a chance to play for a win with 41…Kf8.

The drama wasn’t over yet as Aronian then missed “quite a simple draw” (Kramnik) at the end when he went for 50.g6 instead of 50.h6 g6 51.Kb5, as the Russian demonstrated at the press conference. “Throughout the game I couldn’t calculate one line. Of course it’s embarrassing to lose a game like this but I’ll have to deal with it”, said Aronian. Kramnik: “I’m happy with my play because of course everybody is very tired already and I’m also not totally fresh, especially because it was the third game in a row. If you consider this, I think my level was quite high for this state of mind which we’re all experiencing now!”


The next game to finish was Radjabov-Grischuk, which, because of the dramatic affairs on the other boards, didn’t get a lot of attention in the commentary. It started as a Ragozin and the Azerbaijani (finally!) got an advantage out of the opening with the white pieces. Grischuk: “I thought I had a very promising position but then I realized that [after 16…Ne6 17.Qe5 Be4] White just has 18.Nd2 so I had to switch to defence.” The Russian praised his opponent’s play: “I think Teimour played very well. I completely underestimated the dangers in the endgame.” Radjabov, who probably missed a chance on move 56: “I don’t know if I’m winning but it should be close.” About defending the infamous f+h rook ending, Grischuk said: “I had quite some experience. In one month I had two games with Pavel Eljanov. Both times I had the pawns myself; I drew the first one and won the second. And I read some articles about it.”


And then, after seven hours of play, the chess world was shocked as Magnus Carlsen lost his first game of the tournament, and with it his lead in the tournament. But if anyone could beat him it was the erratic Vassily Ivanchuk, who had the upper hand in their first mutual game as well. In a Taimanov Sicilian, the Ukrainian quickly got a pleasant ending. “When 10.Nb3 appeared on the board I understood that this structure resembles the French Defence and it’s interesting to play. Objectively it’s not better for him but there were many tricks and traps,” said Ivanchuk.

Quite upset about his loss, Carlsen did attend the press conference and was very critical of his play. “First of all I think I played absolutely disgracefully from move 1.” He admitted that it was Black who had an edge in the ending, but after the weakening move 18…a5 he started to play for a win again. But then his 24.Nb5 was "extremely stupid”. “I can do anything. Probably I'm actually not better but I should never lose it.” About the position after move 30, the Norwegian said: “I think there's still not too many problems for me but I just kept on missing more and more stuff.”
Ivanchuk kept pressing, but even the rook ending should have ended in a draw, e.g. with 71.c6. However, there Carlsen made the decisive mistake: “Here I was actually pretty sure that I would draw, which is why I played so carelessly. I hadn’t seen 71…Ke4 at all.” Although he wasn’t sure about his technique, Ivanchuk didn’t make a single mistake, converted the full point and made Kramnik the new sole leader.

The Ukrainian repeated what he said the day before: he sees the rest of the tournament as “preparation for the Russian league” (his next event). He didn't want to admit that he found extra motivation in playing the world’s number one. “Of course I wanted to do my best today. I didn’t have a goal to specially win this game but I was thinking after the 23rd move the position is objectively equal. If Magnus wouldn’t have taken risks, I wouldn’t have had chances to win.”


After twelve rounds the standings are as follows: Kramnik leads with 8 points, followed by Carlsen with 7.5. Aronian is third with 6.5 points and Svidler fourth with 6. Grischuk and Gelfand are tied for fifth place with 5.5 points, Ivanchuk has 5 and Radjabov 4 points. Saturday, March 30th is a rest day. After the clock is set one hour forward, the 13th round will be played on Sunday, March 31st at 14:00 British Summer Time (BST) with the games Radjabov-Carlsen, Grischuk-Aronian, Kramnik-Gelfand and Svidler-Ivanchuk.

(Report by Peter Doggers/Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Women's Chess Grand Prix from May 2

FIDE has announced the Women's Grand-Prix 2013-2014 which will give qualification to the Women's World Championship match 2015. The schedule of the six events is the following:

* 2-16 May 2013 Geneva, Switzerland
* 15-29 June 2013 Dilijan, Armenia
* 17 September - 1 October 2013 Tashkent, Uzbekistan
* 2-16 May 2014 Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia
* 18 June - 2 July 2014 Tbilisi, Georgia
* 24 August - 7 September 2014 Erdenet, Mongolia

In total 18 players will participate, 10 qualifiers as per regulations (listed below) plus 6 nominees from the organisers of each tournament (to be announced) plus 2 nominees of the FIDE President (to be announced). The 10 original qualifiers who have to confirm their participation by 26 March are:

01. Ushenina, Anna (World Champion 2012)
02. Stefanova, Antoaneta (finalist world championship 2012)
03. Ju, Wenjun (semi-finalist world championship 2012)
04. Harika, Dronavalli (semi-finalist world championship 2012)
05. Polgar, Judit (by rating 2703.78, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013)
06. Hou, Yifan (by rating 2610.78, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013)
07. Koneru, Humpy (by rating 2598.44, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013)
08. Muzychuk, Anna (by rating 2593.33, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013)
09. Zhao, Xue (by rating 2555.00, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013)
10. Dzagnidze, Nana (by rating 2551.89, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013)

The first reserve for any replacement needed is Lagno, Kateryna (by rating 2546.33, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013).

The full regulations of the Women's Grand-Prix 2013-2014 are published in the Fide handbook.

Men's Chess Grand Prix from April 17

FIDE and Renova Group of Companies have announced the third leg of the Chess Grand Prix series to take place from April 17 to May 1 in Zug, Switzerland. Fide has announced that they are finalising negotiations with the hotel and would inform all participants of the hotel arrangements and any extra charges for accompanying persons in the next two days. Zug is located around 25 kilometers from Zurich Airport and the best connection is via train.

SCHEDULE
The schedule has been maintained as originally announced:
17th April 2013 Arrivals & Opening Ceremony
18th April 2013 Round 1
19th April 2013 Round 2
20th April 2013 Round 3
21st April 2013 Round 4
22nd April 2013 Free Day
23rd April 2013 Round 5
24th April 2013 Round 6
25th April 2013 Round 7
26th April 2013 Round 8
27th April 2013 Free Day
28th April 2013 Round 9
29th April 2013 Round 10
30th April 2013 Round 11 & Closing Ceremony
1st May 2013 Departure

FIDE is currently also working on a replacement organiser for the fourth leg and more information will be available shortly. The dates of the fourth leg will also remain the same as scheduled in the calendar.

PLAYERS
Players participating in the third leg:
Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2793
Karjakin, Sergey RUS 2786
Topalov, Veselin BUL 2771
Nakamura, Hikaru USA 2771
Mamedyarov, Shakriyar AZE 2767
Caruana, Fabiano ITA 2766
Morozevich, Alexander RUS 2758
Leko, Peter HUN 2744
Wang, Hao CHN 2743 (Replaced by GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov UZB 2709)
Gashimov, Vugar AZE 2737
Ponomariov, Ruslan UKR 2733
Giri, Anish NLD 2729

First reserve for any replacements is GM Gata Kamsky (USA)

Candidates R11: Kramnik Trails Carlsen

In Thursday's 11th round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament 2013 Vladimir Kramnik moved to second place. Russia's number one beat Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan), while Levon Aronian (Armenia) lost to Peter Svidler (Russia). Drawing his black game with Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Magnus Carlsen (Norway) kept his half point lead in London with three rounds to go. Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) and Boris Gelfand (Israel) played a very quick draw. 


Designed by world-renowned Pentagram Design, the playing zone in the IET’s Lecture Theatre has a lower middle area and a higher area at the back. It is there where the arbiters stay and where the players are getting their food and drinks during the game. As became clear at the start of the 11th round, chess players aren’t really used to such a split-level room. Vassily Ivanchuk slipped and almost fell down, hurt his left ankle and had to treat it with some ice. (Now he’s fine.) At the press conference his opponent, Boris Gelfand, said that he too almost fell down in one of the previous rounds, plunged in thought about his position!



The encounter between Ivanchuk and Gelfand was in fact the shortest game of the tournament so far. In a Grünfeld, the two started repeating moves right after the opening, and agreed to a draw at move 17. It was a bit of a theoretical duel, as Ivanchuk repeated his Bf4 system which he adopted against Carlsen in the fifth round, Gelfand deviated on move seven and then the players followed the game Fridman-Kramnik, Dortmund 2012 until move 11. “It’s not easy to play if you don’t know it because it’s a very sharp position and both pawns are hanging. I think Vassily found a good solution to be safe,” said Gelfand. Ivanchuk: “I remember that Fridman played 12.Qb3 but I didn’t analyse it.”


Gelfand showed a few variations on the laptop in the press room, and said about the final position: “White can never be worse here. I think as a player who played Catalan all my career, I like generally White’s possibilities with this bishop on the big diagonal.” Asked about the historical importance of this Candidates’ Tournament, Gelfand said: “Tournaments like these are a milestone. Unfortunately recently I feel that the respect to the players is dropping, maybe because of computers. People think ‘OK, he didn’t see this move, the computer shows 0.65’, and they tend to respect players less. But of course such a tournament is fantastic. It’s wonderful to play here.”

Candidates R10: Carlsen in Sole Lead

Magnus Carlsen kept his half point lead in Round 10 of the FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in London. On Wednesday the Norwegian ground down Boris Gelfand (Israel) with White in a Rossolimo Sicilian. His main rivals also won: Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) admitted that he was lucky as in a drawish Berlin Endgame Alexander Grischuk (Russia) blundered in time trouble, while the opponent of Levon Aronian (Armenia), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), overstepped the time limit for the fourth time in this tournament, after playing well in a Budapest Gambit. Dejected about his score with White so far, Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) went for a quick draw against Peter Svidler (Russia) in a Grünfeld. 
 

An hour and a half into the 10th round, the game between Teimour Radjabov and Peter Svidler was already over. It’s about time to quote commentator Nigel Short’s description of such games: it was a damp squib. Having repaired his Grünfeld after his loss against Kramnik (“It wasn’t that broken, to be honest” – Svidler), the Russian grandmaster again went for his favourite defence but his opponent did manage to surprise him with his 16th move. This “either caught me by surprise or I simply couldn’t remember what my notes say,” commented Svidler, who continued playing sensible moves.
 

All of a sudden Radjabov started repeating, as early as move 19. At some point Svidler walked away from his board in his own time to get himself a cup of tea. “The longer he thinks, the more likely he’ll agree to a draw!” said Nigel Short. And indeed, Svidler did accept Radjabov’s silent draw offer, arguing: “I don’t believe I’m better, I couldn’t find any advantage after both 21…Qc3 and 21…Qa3.”

Radjabov: “Considering my amazing score with White in this tournament (…) I decided that a draw is a very nice result. I am not the guy who is here to lose all my games. I thought that if Peter would play for a win I would also play for a win because there would be no other chance. There were times in my life when I was very unsatisfied with a draw but now I think a draw is an amazing result sometimes!”

Another hour and a half later, Alexander Grischuk resigned his game against Vladimir Kramnik, who again brought back memories from his match against Kasparov in London by playing his favourite Berlin Ending. “The openings I played back in 2000 are working very well for me,” Kramnik said, “but although I score well in this Berlin, in fact I hadn't won a single classical game in it, only rapid and blitz.”
 


The 14th World Champion reached a comfortable position by “playing just theoretical moves”, and around move 25 it was “quite drawish”. Kramnik: “27…Bf5 was a clever move, there were a few traps.” Meanwhile Grischuk, who described his position after the opening as “awful”, was getting into time trouble. “I was not happy to get this position and just defend. I didn’t know what to play.”

30.Bxd4 was “an awful blunder” said Kramnik: “In general I was quite lucky; it should have been a draw. It’s quite unusual for me to score half a point more out of nothing. Usually I give up points. For me it's rare that somebody blunders. It was just a present. I am not used to these kind of things. There are some players who are receiving this kind of presents quite often, but not me.”

Vassily Ivanchuk was also bringing back memories, but of a totally different kind. Against Levon Aronian the Ukrainian overstepped the time limit, for the fourth time already this tournament. By now we just have to mention German grandmaster Fritz Sämisch (1896-1975), who at the age of 73 played two tournaments, one in Büsum, Germany and another in Linköping, Sweden, where he lost all games (fifteen in the former and thirteen in the latter) on time.

Ivanchuk’s opening play, however, is still as unpredictable as ever. “[He’s] known to play any kind of opening so I just decided not to prepare much, keep my head fresh,” said Aronian, who faced the rare Budapest Gambit this time. The Armenian felt he played “a bit imprecise” in the early middlegame, but after he found a double pawn sacrifice (going from one up to one down), the tables turned. “After 26.g4 I have very good compensation. I was actually quite happy with my position,” said Aronian.By then Ivanchuk was yet again in horrible time trouble: after his 27th move he had two and a half minutes left, and then his moves just didn’t get through anymore. With playing 29…gxf5 (a losing move anyway) he left himself with just one second for eleven moves! Aronian: “I’m happy to kind of recover after a loss against Boris. Let’s see, let’s see. Still many round to go!”

Magnus Carlsen then became the third winner of the day, slowly grinding down Boris Gelfand from a Rossolimo Sicilian. According to the Norwegian, after the opening “White is slightly better but it's of course very playable for Black.” After some forced moves Gelfand went for the manoeuvre Qd8-b6-b3-c2 where computer engines prefer the passive 20…Qf8. “What computers are missing is that the whole concept was to get the queen active and to keep the white pieces paralysed. But I just missed one thing,” said Gelfand. That thing was a deep tactic which forced the Israeli to change his intended plan (Ra8-a1) and find something else at move 25. There were many ways to defend in that phase, and after the press conference Gelfand stayed around for about ten minutes, analysing blindfold with Jon Speelman and some journalists.

Carlsen said that after his neat 28.Qa5! “it’s clear that I’m playing for two results” and he was happy with his 37.Qe2! as well. “I’m happy to still be leading so I think I’ll just try do more of the same. I wasn’t thrilled that the other two guys won their game but there’s nothing you can do about that. And… I wasn’t sure that the Budapest Gambit was what I wanted to see but I think I can only change what I do myself! I just try to play and that’s what I’ll do for the rest of the tournament.”

After ten rounds Carlsen is leading with 7 points. He’s followed by Aronian (6.5) and then Kramnik (6). Then there’s a gap with: Gelfand, Grischuk and Svidler who have 4.5 points. Ivanchuk and Radjabov are in last place with 3.5 points. On Thursday, March 28th at 14:00 GMT with the tenth round: Grischuk-Carlsen, Kramnik-Radjabov, Svidler-Aronian and Ivanchuk-Gelfand.

(Official website report by 
Peter Doggers and Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Carlsen Survives Kramnik: Video

Here's the press conference video featuring Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik after their amazing game in Round 9 at the London Chess Candidates 2013. A draw - coming back from a lost position - gave the World No. 1 sole lead in the tournament. Five more rounds have to be played. The host is Anastasiya Karlovich. Play resumes today - Wednesday, March 28 - and you can watch live at the official website from 7.30 pm India time.

Alekhine Chess Memorial from April 20

The Alekhine Memorial International Chess Super-Tournament – which begins on 20th April at the Louvre Museum in Paris – will open with a concert by Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky. The distinguished pianist has selected a programme of works for the Alekhine Memorial by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. Mr Lugansky believes there are a number of parallels between Rachmaninoff's career and the fate of Russia's first World Chess Champion.

“The idea of linking chess and art appeals to me. It was something first tried at the match between Anand and Gelfand held at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow” said Mr Lugansky. “I'm really pleased that the concept is gaining ground. The tournament celebrating the great Master being held at the Louvre and at the Russian Museum is a splendid event – not only for chess, but for culture as a whole.”

“Alekhine was always my favourite chess player, even in my childhood. I was impressed by his ability to find the thread for a combination of almost any position. The quadruple World Champion viewed every chess game as a work of art – as a chess fan, that way of thinking of things is very close to my own”.


Nikolai Lugansky stressed that his choice of Sergei Rachmaninoff's works in his programme for this event is far from coincidental. “There are many parallels between the life of the great Russian chess player, and the great Russian composer. Both Alekhine and Rachmaninoff were Russian by birth, but emigrated from the country – and both won world acclaim. Both of them made phenomenal contributions to world culture, and both represented Russian culture brilliantly. The Alekhine Memorial Tournament is certain to underscore Russia's worldwide cultural standing” Mr Lugansky observed.

As has been already reported, the Alekhine Memorial International Chess Super-Tournament will take place in two stages, from 21st April to 1st May, in Paris and St Petersburg. The tournament is organised by the Russian Chess Federation, with the supports of businessmen Gennady Timchenko and Andrei Filatov. The upcoming tournament will be a chance for chess fans all over the world to appreciate Russian culture more widely.



Alexander Alekhine (1892–1946)
Born in Moscow on 19 October 1892, the first Russian World Chess Champion Alexander Alekhine was the son of a State Duma deputy, marshal of the Voronezh nobility, and the owner of huge black-earth estates in Central Russia. Alekhine graduated from the St Petersburg School of Law in 1914. That same year, he became one of the world’s strongest chess players, placing third at the prestigious St Petersburg chess tournament, after the then-reigning World Champion Emanuel Lasker and before the future Champion José Raúl Capablanca.

Alekhine was playing at a tournament in Germany when WWI broke out. He was arrested and thrown into a German prison; upon his return to Russia, he signed up as a volunteer with the Red Cross. Alekhine was twice contused on the Galician Front, carried the wounded from battlefields, was decorated several times and was nominated for the Order of Saint Stanislaus with Swords. He became the first Chess Champion of the USSR in 1920, before leaving Soviet Russia in 1921 for France, where he became a citizen in 1925.

In 1927, Alekhine defeated the “invincible” José Raúl Capablanca in a match for the World Champion title. He dominated the chess world for several years after that, winning major tournaments at a big advantage over his rivals. In 1935, he lost a match to Max Euwe, only to defeat the Dutch Grandmaster two years later in a return match and to remain undefeated until his death.

In 1939, during the chess Olympics in Buenos-Aires he called for the German team to be disqualified because of the German attack on Poland. After the Olympics he performed charity games, with funds going to the Polish Red Cross. In 1940, he joined the French army, which brought many complications to his life in occupied France.

Alekhine died in Portugal in 1946, on the eve of an announcement that his World Championship match against Mikhail Botvinnik would take place after all. Alexander Alekhine was the only World Chess Champion to die undefeated.

The Russian Chess Federation is a membership-based, voluntary, all-Russian public association made up of chess federations of the republics, territories, regions, federal cities, autonomous regions, and autonomous districts. It operates throughout the Russian Federation, its goal being to develop chess in Russia and to represent the interests of chess players who are members of the Federation both in Russia and abroad. 


The Louvre Museum is one of the world’s largest museums, covering an area of 160,000 m2. The exhibition halls themselves occupy 58,000 m2. Its collections have more than 300,000 items. The Louvre was the first museum to open its doors to the general public in 1793. Every year, more than 10 million people visit the Louvre. The museum’s collection consists of departments for the Ancient East, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome, Artefacts, Sculptures, Fine Art, Graphic Art, and Islamic Arts. In February 2013, the Louvre museum signed an agreement with Russian businessmen Gennady Timchenko and Andrei Filatov to open an exhibition of Russian art in France’s most prestigious museum. 


The State Russian Museum, the country’s first state museum of Russian fine arts, was founded in 1895 in St. Petersburg by decree of Emperor Nicholas II. It was officially opened to visitors on 19 March (7 March by the old calendar) 1898. The Russian museum’s collection currently includes over 400,000 exhibits and covers all historical periods and development trends of Russian art, all main types and genres and areas of over more than 1,000 years (from the tenth to the twenty-first century). The main exhibition is housed in the Mikhailovsky Palace and the Benoit Building, which forms part of the palace ensemble. In addition to the Mikhailovsky Palace, the Benoit Building and the Rossi Wing, the museum complex includes the Marble Palace and the Stroganov Palace, the Mikhailovsky (Engineering) Castle, as well as unique garden and park ensembles – the Summer Garden and Summer Palace of Peter I and the Mikhailovsky Garden.

Gennady Timchenko has been Chairman of the Economic Council of French and Russian Businesses of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIFR) since December 2011. His family has been involved in charitable work both in Russia and abroad for more than 20 years. The Key Foundation, which works to help families with adopted children, was set up in 2007. The Neva Foundation was founded in 2008 in Geneva to support scientific and cultural cooperation projects between Russia and Western Europe. The Ladoga Charitable Foundation was created in 2010 to support the older generation, children’s sport and the revival of Russian spirituality.

Andrei Filatov is an entrepreneur and a member of the Economic Council of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIFR). He is actively involved in philanthropic work and is financing a number of humanitarian programmes. He set up an art fund to trace and collect works of Russian and Soviet artists from the period 1917–1991 which have been taken out of Russia. The fund aims to promote awareness of this artistic period through the publication of catalogues and the organization of exhibitions. Andrei Filatov supported an exhibition of works by the Russian émigré artist Nikolai Fechin at the State Tretyakov Gallery and is currently preparing an exhibition of Mikhail Nesterov to mark the 150th anniversary of this outstanding master of Russian painting.

Candidates R9: Carlsen in Sole Lead

Magnus Carlsen is the sole leader after nine rounds at the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament. On Monday the Norwegian drew with Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) while co-leader Levon Aronian (Armenia) lost to Boris Gelfand (Israel). Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk (both Russia) drew an amazingly complicated game and after 6.5 hours of play Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) scored his first win, against Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan).
With the second half of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament well under way, the interest in the tournament is growing, both online and at the IET in London. Every day both the number of spectators in the playing hall and journalists in the press room is growing, and many local grandmasters can be seen at the venue. Gawain Jones, Daniel King and Luke McShane have been frequent visitors and on Monday GMs John Nunn, Matthew Sadler, Jon Speelman and Simon Williams came along. They all witnessed another great round in which the big game was world number 2 Vladimir Kramnik against world number 1 Magnus Carlsen.

Kramnik got a nice advantage in a Catalan: “Actually it was my preparation for Kazan; I was about to play it against Radjabov in 2011 but finally for some reason I decided to play something else. Since that time I was keeping it and nobody played it. This 11.Qc2 and 12.Rd1 is kind of a new set-up; it’s quite dangerous I believe.” Carlsen: “I didn't know the details too much of this line. I more or less had to figure it out over the board. It’s not so easy to play and the way I played, he got a stable advantage so I probably did something wrong. I was just trying to find a good plan which I probably didn’t succeed in doing.”

After 13.Nc3 White was “just better” and after 20.Qe3 it was “getting really critical for Black” (Kramnik) but then, starting with 22…Re8, Carlsen found a key defensive idea (and perhaps even the only move): 25…Nd5!. Almost by force an ending with rooks and opposite-coloured bishops came on the board where Kramnik’s extra pawn wasn’t worth much. “It just seems to work by millimetre,” the Russian said two times at the press conference.

“Of course Magnus is a very strong player, a very strong defender. I don't say that I missed any win today but I was better in the opening, had a very nice position and then… it seemed very close. It’s a bit disappointing of course,” said Kramnik. Carlsen about defending this game: “I thought it was dangerous but the good thing for me is that most of the time I had to make only moves. Then in a way it’s easier.”



Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk played the most spectacular game of the tournament so far. The latter went for the ever-interesting King’s Indian Defence, and like in his game against Radjabov, Svidler played the Sämisch variation. Then, on move 12, Grischuk came up with an absolutely stunning novelty that involved a long-term piece sacrifice.

At first Svidler was “very worried”. “In a practical game (…) every move will be a torture.” English grandmaster Matthew Sadler, who lives in The Netherlands but spent his weekend with family, joined the commentary for a while and said: “I was counting the pieces and I must have counted them at least ten times!”

Svidler went for a long think, played an interesting sequence of moves and then felt he was winning. “Of course I missed 19…h3. After that I realized the game continues.” Eventually White got three minor pieces for his queen, and Svidler still felt that “White should be better somehow”, but “it became a bit too messy for my liking”. In time trouble he might have missed some ways to make Grischuk’s life harder. Just after the time control Black had created so much counter play that Svidler had seen enough and accepted his opponent’s draw offer.



The game between Boris Gelfand and Levon Aronian became quite very important for the tournament standings. In a Queen’s Gambit Declined that turned into some sort of Stonewall position, around move 25 Aronian missed a tactic and lost an important pawn. Computers don’t like his 26…Bf7, a move Gelfand didn’t expect: “Here I think Levon is in trouble.”

However, according to the Israeli Black wasn’t lost yet. “After 32…Rd3 I don’t know if my advantage is so big, but 32…h5 is a blunder.” Aronian, who had to skip the press conference because of a drug test (which Carlsen, Kramnik and Svidler also had to perform), said he had missed 28.e6 and then “completely forgot about this 33.f5 stuff”. However, just before the time control Gelfand missed a quick win, and a double rook ending came on the board. “Fortunately I have this plan of a king’s attack,” said Gelfand, who won the ending without too much trouble. It wasn’t an easy game for him, though. “I think for me it was more difficult because I played with my very close friend and he is leading the tournament. But we're professionals and we have to play our utmost in each game.”

(Report Peter by Doggers/Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich)

Candidates R8: Carlsen, Aronian Lead

Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Levon Aronian of Armenia are still tied for first place after eight rounds at the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament in London. The leaders of the tournament faced each other over the board on Sunday and drew a Catalan game in just an hour and a half. Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, who beat his compatriot Peter Svidler in a Grünfeld, is now one point behind the two. Like Kramnik, Boris Gelfand of Israel won his first game of the tournament. He defeated Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan by adopting the strong positional concept 13...e5! in an English game. For the third time already in this tournament, Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk lost on time, in this round against Alexander Grischuk of Russia.
 


On Sunday the second half of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament started with a big game: Magnus Carlsen versus Levon Aronian, the two leaders of the tournament. In the first round they drew against each other, and if either player would have won this one, he would have been “huge favourite”, as Carlsen put it the day before. One reason is that if two players tie for first place after the last round, the first tie-break rule is the individual result.

Somewhat expectedly, neither player wanted to take too much risk and as a result the game quickly petered out to a draw. “I thought that Magnus was not going to take much risk and play solid,” said Aronian. Carlsen: “I was just trying to play more or less solidly, trying to put some pressure without taking too much risk. It felt like the natural thing to do in such a situation. He played precisely in the opening.”

Thanks to good preparation Aronian quickly equalized in a Catalan. However, in a very equal ending Carlsen declined a draw offer, somewhere around move 33: “I thought there was no harm in playing a few more moves. But at that point both of us knew what was going to happen anyway!”

As the players explained, such quick draws are part of the game: “As in the whole tournament, you don’t really want to lose any game, but this one particularly. In this tournament situation it would mean a lot. You have to try and take your chances when you can,” said Aronian. “In general with Black in such tournaments that’s the way you play. You try and play solid and if there are chances, you take them, otherwise… You know, the players here are so strong that it’s not easy to win any game,” said Carlsen.

(Report Peter by Doggers/Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Candidates R7: Carlsen, Aronian Lead


In what was the shortest round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament so far, Levon Aronian of Armenia and Magnus Carlsen of Norway maintained their 1.5 point lead over Russians Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Svidler. Against Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan, Carlsen needed to sacrifice an exchange to wear off dangerous threats against his king, which proved to be sufficient. Aronian got a small positional advantage against Alexander Grischuk of Russia, who saved himself by going for active defence. For a moment Kramnik was in big trouble, but he escaped with a draw when his opponent Boris Gelfand of Israel refrained from playing actively on move 19. Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine and Peter Svidler of Russia played the shortest draw of the round in a Scotch game that quickly turned into an endgame.



In the seventh round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament all games were finished in less than four hours. It’s hard to believe, though, that the participants were trying to be ready in time for the Chess Boxing event which is taking place at London’s Scala Club on Saturday night. Especially Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian have something better to do, on the night before they will play each other for the second time.

Less than three hours into the round, Vassily Ivanchuk and Peter Svidler were in the middle of an interesting ending when they suddenly agreed to a draw. “I didn’t expect the Scotch, and he probably didn’t expect long castles,” is how Svidler explained the time spent by both players in what was a theoretical opening variation. “It was a new position to me. I was trying to understand what was going on, and trying not to blunder something,” said Ivanchuk.

The players quickly reached an ending where White had a rook, bishop and knight with five pawns against two rooks and seven pawns for Black. Because neither player could really play for a win, the move repetition was a logical finish. Not satisfied with his play in the previous two rounds, Svidler said: “I don’t particularly mind equalizing and making a draw against a very strong player.”

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com.

Standings after Round 7
1.Magnus Carlsen 5
2.Levon Aronian 5
3.Peter Svidler 3.5
4.Vladimir Kramnik 3.5 
5.Teimour Radjabov 3
6.Alexander Grischuk 3
7.Vassily Ivanchuk 2.5
8.Boris Gelfand 2.5

Sunday pairings round 8
1.Magnus Carlsen-Levon Aronian
2.Teimour Radjabov-Boris Gelfand
3.Alexander Grischuk-Vassily Ivanchuk
4.Vladimir Kramnik-Peter Svidler



Report by Peter Doggers/Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Candidates: Must-See Video Montage

Scenes from the 2013 Candidates Tournament in London. Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich, music by John Garrison and video montage by Macauley Peterson. Macauley is a freelance mediamaker focusing on the sport of professional chess. During his time with the Internet Chess Club and Chess.FM (2007-2010), he produced over 300 short films about the sport and was voted 2008 'Chess Journalist of the Year' by the Chess Journalists of America.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Candidates R6: Carlsen, Aronian Lead

By winning in round 6 Levon Aronian (Armenia) and Magnus Carlsen (Norway) increased their lead at the FIDE Candidates' Tournament to 1.5 points. The score was opened by Carlsen who beat Peter Svidler (Russia) from the black side of a Closed Ruy Lopez. Aronian profited from a blunder by Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) in the 7th hour of play. In a Closed Catalan, Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) sacrificed an exchange and then a piece, but despite getting into time trouble yet again, Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) defended well and held the draw. Alexander Grischuk (Russia) and Boris Gelfand (Israel) drew an exciting 3.Bb5 Sicilian.
 
So far the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament has received amazing response from chess fans all over the world. During the first six rounds over 265,000 unique visitors from 194 countries have visited the official website. Over 70 international journalists have requested press accreditation and almost all British media have covered the tournament in one way or another. One example is the BBC, who have already done three different items on Magnus Carlsen!

On Thursday the top seed score quite a smooth win against Peter Svidler. In a more or less standard Ruy Lopez position, the Russian grandmaster decided to “try something new” with his move 15.Bc2. He thought that he should have played h2-h3 earlier, perhaps instead of 17.Ne3. His play in that phase was “based on a miscalculation”. A few moves later Svidler was “already struggling” until he missed 33…Qe4! which decided the game immediately. He did have a small compliment to his opponent: “As usual the conversion phase went quite smoothly.”
 

As computer engines pointed out, Carlsen in fact missed a strong move earlier on: 25…Bxh3. “At this point I was just thinking that straightforward moves were good enough for a huge advantage,” said Carlsen, who is more than satisfied after six rounds of play. “I’m very happy. I’ve had four blacks so far and I feel that I’m playing at a decent level so… as I said before: I am where I need to be. We’ll see what happens from here.”

One of Carlsen’s main rivals, world’s number two Vladimir Kramnik, lost further ground by drawing with Vassily Ivanchuk. Once again the Ukrainian got into serious time trouble. “I had to spend some time in the opening because the position was very dangerous and of course I understood that every little mistake can lead to a loss,” said Ivanchuk.

Kramnik came up with a nice positional exchange sacrifice and then did away with another piece to create a dangerous attack on the enemy king. But it was just not enough: just when his opponent needed to make 13 moves in only 1 minute and 4 seconds, the former World Champion had to go for a perpetual check.

The game was so complicated and interesting that during the press conference Kramnik impatiently asked if the press room’s laptop could run an engine. After it was switched on, he grabbed the mouse and said: “I don’t know if I had anything. Let’s see what the guy says.” The players and host Anastasiya Karlovich had a good laugh about some of the amazing moves that were suggested by the machine. For sure Kramnik was also trying to find analytical support for the difficult decision he had to make on move 30...
 

About the tournament situation, Kramnik said: “I just have bad luck. I quite like my play but the ball is just not getting into the goal. Yesterday I was very close to a win, and today again... It was just amazing that I was not checkmating him. I’m afraid that if I don’t repeat moves I’m just lost. It would be a gamble because he is a very good blitz player. I am not happy about the way the tournament is going but I don’t think I can blame myself. The only thing I can do is continue to show good chess and hope that at some point I will have luck on my side.”

Alexander Grischuk and Boris Gelfand played the Rossolimo Sicilian (3.Bb5), a line which the Israeli got on the board many times last year in his World Championship match against Vishy Anand. About his seventh move Grischuk said: “Unfortunately Boris was very well prepared for this rare line.” After the opening the Russian grandmaster lost a pawn and then he had to "fight for the draw", but he managed to get the game sharper. With little time on the clock for both players at the second time control, Gelfand decided to repeat moves.

Teimour Radjabov versus Levon Aronian was a relatively quiet Ruy Lopez. “I thought I had a decent position out of the opening and lots of time on my clock, so I thought I should pose some problems for Teimour,” said Aronian, who seemed to get an advantage after White’s pawn push 24.g5. Kramnik, who joined the commentary team when he was finished and even took the time to look at this game, said: “This g4-g5 looks like a nervous move. It seems people are a bit nervous here, especially the young guys!”

With a weakened king position Radjabov had to be careful, and he was for a long time. “I should say that till the very last moment he was defending very well. Only through luck I managed to break his resistance,” said Aronian. The Armenian could profit from a blunder by his opponent on move 53 and thus scored an important point.

After six rounds Carlsen and Aronian have 4.5 points (or “plus three” in chess slang), which is 1.5 point more than Svidler and Kramnik. Grischuk and Radjabov have 2.5 points and Ivanchuk and Gelfand 2. Friday is a rest day. Saturday, March 23rd at 14:00 GMT the seventh round will be played: Carlsen-Radjabov, Aronian-Grischuk, Gelfand-Kramnik and Ivanchuk-Svidler.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com.
Report by Peter Doggers/
Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Candidates R5: Fireworks, but 4 Draws


The standings didn't change after Wednesday's fifth round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament in London as all games ended in draws. Facing his own favourite Grünfeld, Peter Svidler (Russia) got a winning position against Boris Gelfand (Israel) but after wild complications the game ended in a draw. Magnus Carlsen (Norway) also played the Grünfeld and for the first time he was under pressure, against Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), but eventually he held a knight ending a pawn down. Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) got his chances in a Réti against Levon Aronian (Armenia), who held an opposite-coloured bishop ending two pawns down. The last game to finish was Alexander Grischuk (Russia) versus Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan). In a 5.Bf4 Queen's Gambit Declined White also got very close to a win but with a bishop sacrifice the Azerbaijani held his own.

The fifth round of the Candidates tournament had a comical start. In two games the Grünfeld Defence came on the board: Peter Svidler versus Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk versus Magnus Carlsen. And quite remarkably, after the move 3…d5, which defines this opening, both Svidler and Ivanchuk started to think! It seemed that the Ukrainian was waiting for Svidler to move, while Svidler needed to think of a good way to play against his own favourite defence…

Well, in fact the grandmaster from St. Petersburg had found an interesting idea (7.f4) together with his seconds Nikita Vitiugov and Maxim Matlakov shortly before the game. “It looks incredibly ugly and that was one of the main reasons for playing it because I thought Boris might decide he has to play for an advantage now,” said Svidler. Gelfand didn't react well, on the contrary. Afterwards the Israeli said that he hadn’t played the opening so badly in his entire career. “This move 8…Bg4 is a disaster and 10…c6 may be even worse.”

However, after reaching an overwhelming position ("In a tournament like this I'm very unlikely to get such a position again"), Svidler wanted to force matters and “started sacrificing pawns left and right”, as Grischuk put it. Gelfand reacted very well and even got the upper hand, but after some more complications he decided to offer a draw just before the time control. He explained it as follows: “Draw offers are a psychological game. If White would decline then the pressure would be on his side and maybe he would take too much risk. People underestimate this; they are crazy about the number of moves and statistics but here it’s real psychology!”

Also in that other Grünfeld game it was White who got a clear advantage. Ivanchuk played strongly and created problems for his opponent, which meant that for the first time in this tournament, top seed Magnus Carlsen was under serious pressure. “It was a very difficult game. I tried to be creative in the opening. He responded well and I was worse, so I decided to sacrifice a pawn in order to get into an endgame which I thought I could hold,” said Carlsen.

For a moment the Norwegian even played for a win; at move 31 Ivanchuk, who was again short of time, offered a draw. Carlsen declined: “At some point I even got optimistic which was completely unfounded and I had to fight to save the game. I just underestimated his possibilities. It was an unprofessional and bad decision to play on.”

Also in the game between the world’s number two and three, Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian, White got excellent winning chances. Aronian’s problems started after his risky pawn push 13…b5. “This was probably asking for too much.”

Kramnik then found the strong idea of pushing his f-pawn and sacrificing his a-pawn along the way. He managed to break open the centre, but then missed a strong continuation which was pointed out by computer engines. Nonetheless, after the time control the Russian reached a very promising ending. “I don’t know what the computer says but I have a feeling I missed a win,” said Kramnik, and Aronian agreed with him. During their press conference the two top grandmaster showed numerous amazing variations to the (online) spectators, and after about half an hour they still didn’t find a win for White, despite being two pawns up in an opposite-coloured bishop ending.

Most of this press conference was in fact watched by Alexander Grischuk and Teimour Radjabov in the press room as well. Their game finished shortly after that of Kramnik and Aronian. It was the same story here: Grischuk got close to a win, but failed to convert the full point. In the 5.Bf4 variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined, the Muscovite was very much in control: “I think I got a completely winning position but I should not have let Black sacrifice on c5. I underestimated that."

With his 34th move Radjabov managed to change the nature of the position completely and at the same time he got his opponent rather confused. “I thought I was checkmating but 36…h5 was cold a shower," said Grischuk. Eventually a complicated ending was reached where Radjabov had three passed pawns against a knight for Grischuk, but there the Russian decided to force the draw by liquidating to an equal rook ending.

And so after five rounds the standings are the same with half a point more for each player. Aronian and Carlsen are tied for first place with 3.5 points while Svidler is the only player with 3. Kramnik and Radjabov have 2.5 points, Grischuk has 2 points and Gelfand and Ivanchuk are in last place, with 1.5 points. Thursday, March 21st at 14:00 GMT the sixth round will be played: Svidler-Carlsen, Kramnik-Ivanchuk, Grischuk-Gelfand and Radjabov-Aronian.
Statistics: From the start of the tournament till round 5 over 200,000 unique visitors from 185 countries came to the official site. 

Report by Peter Doggers/
Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chessdom Shop Only: Kasparov Notes

Garry’s Choice is the exclusive world famous column by Garry Kasparov. The 13th World champion dissects top games of modern chess/ in English, 25 pages in total, for Chess Informants. You can now get the 113, 114, and 115 columns by Garry Kasparov in downloadable Candidates pack. One zip file contains: - high resolution printable PDF files/ 25 pages in English / same content as in Chess Informant books - PGN files with annotations by Garry Kasparov/ including reference games/ readable by ChessBase, ChessAssistant or any PGN reader. This is the offer only for ChessDom.com readers, the bundle is not available anywhere else. Price for Chessdom readers is 12.50 EUR.

Garry Kasparov, the Thirteenth World Champion, tremendously influenced the development of chess with his games, analyses, and writings. The quality of this work has greatly enriched our chess culture, and Chess Informant has had the privilege of presenting the fruits of his deep analytical work for more than thirty years. Seven years after his retirement from professional chess, we are deeply honored to welcome Garry back to Chess Informant! In the new column, “Garry’s Choice,” he is annotating select games from recent practice, casting his critical eye on the efforts of modern chess stars – and mere “mortals” – in his trademark style. Order Garry’s Choice 115, 114, 113 Candidates pack here

Disturbing Guy Vs. Chess Queen: Video


There are all types of chess opponents. What to do when your opponent tries to distract you? Are you really allowed to disturb your opponent in a chess match? But, do what Chess Queen Alexandra Kosteniuk does in the video: Stay focused and win! This video is from the Official YouTube Channel of the 12th Women's World Chess Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk. Alexandra is the 10th woman in the history of chess to have reached the title of Grandmaster (Men). GM Kosteniuk plays a 3-minute chess blitz with International Master Yge Visser at the 2005 ChessDarts World Championship in Amsterdam. This was the first game of the mini-match, which Alexandra won 2-0 despite Visser's "antics". The Chessdarts title was won by Alexandra Kosteniuk and her partner Darts Champion Andy Fordham. The game is without increment of time and the last minute of this game was very exciting for the spectators. (Photo: The World Champions 2005 Chessdarts Alexandra Kosteniuk and Andy Fordham)




Fischer Chess Memorial Exhibition

A memorial exhibit has been unveiled at a Reykjavik hotel commemorating ‘The match of all time’. The launch of the artefact comes four decades after legendary American chess champion Bobby Fisher took on Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union in the Icelandic capital in 1972. During the event, the two players stayed at the Hotel Loftleiðir, which has since become the Icelandair Reykjavik Hotel Nátura and is now the site of the exhibit.

Visitors can check out the exhibition by heading to the ground floor of the Reykjavik hotel property, where they can view a number of items including a chessboard that had been designed specifically for the epic match, which has since been called a foreshadow of the Cold War. Also on display are a number of photographs and artefacts commemorating the lives of the two players after the event. The legendary game saw Bobby Fisher become the first ever American to be crowned as an international chess champion and ended the Soviet Union’s winning streak that spanned nearly two-and-a-half decades. (Hotel website/Reykjavik)

Candidates R4: Aronian, Carlsen Lead


In Tuesday’s fourth round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament in London Magnus Carlsen of Norway caught Levon Aronian of Armenia in first place. Carlsen beat Alexander Grischuk of Russia in a Ruy Lopez Berlin, while Aronian was held to a draw by Peter Svidler of Russia in a Queen’s Gambit Accepted. The two oldest participants, Boris Gelfand of Israel and Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, drew a very interesting game that started with the rare Chigorin Defence. Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia drew a Nimzo-Indian that was always more or less balanced. 

After enjoying their first rest day, on Tuesday the eight top grandmasters returned to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) at Savoy Place for the fourth round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament. It was also the first day that, in the commentary room, host IM Lawrence Trent was joined by former World Championship contender GM Nigel Short. Throughout the tournament, online spectators can follow the games while watching and listening to live commentary simultaneously. In the playing hall, the audience enjoys a similar experience thanks to Samsung tablets which are waiting for them on their seats at arrival.


The first game to finish was a relatively short draw: tournament leader Levon Aronian split the point with Peter Svidler after 31 moves. In this game, Svidler showed once again that he has come to London very well prepared. The grandmaster from St. Petersburg successfully employed a rare line of the Queen's Gambit Accepted in which Black actually hangs on to his c-pawn with an early ...a6 and ...b5. 


“During the game I was trying to remember what my intention was, but I failed," said Aronian. According to Svidler, his opponent didn't play the most dangerous plan: "This is actually not such a straightforward line but with some precision Black tends to equalise if White goes for the pawn grab. I suppose the critical lines are somewhere where White ignores the pawn for a while."

Svidler's 10...Rb8 instead of 10...Ra7 is a new idea (played only once before) that involves a long-term pawn sacrifice. It worked well, and Svidler equalised quite comfortably. "It's nice to have half a rest today. Somewhat nicer for me than it is for Levon I'm sure but for me it's fairly nice," said Svidler.

A bit more than 3.5 hours into the round, Magnus Carlsen won his second game of the tournament to catch Aronian in first place. In the popular Berlin variation of the Ruy Lopez, his opponent Alexander Grischuk started spending a lot of time early on. An important moment was 17…f5, a move disliked by Carlsen. “I missed a lot of things with this move. I completely overestimated my position. I still think Black is fine but [during the game] I thought Black was better,” said Grischuk. One of Black's problems was his bad bishop on f8 – the reason why his position looked better than it was.



To make matters worse, Grischuk’s disadvantage on the clock started to grow. After making his 21st move, Grischuk had only 4 minutes and 24 seconds left on the clock for his next 19 moves. It was just impossible to reach the time control without making mistakes, and Carlsen profited from these mistakes by not paying attention to his opponent’s time trouble too much. As he said after the game, he was “just trying to play well”. And he was never really worried: “Obviously there are threats but I felt that I always had enough resources to parry them. You can never be absolutely sure but I thought that I had enough play on the queenside to counter whatever threats he could muster.”

Only two players are older than forty in this tournament: Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk. Both 44, these chess legends must have played over a hundred games against each other. Gelfand referred to this when he expressed the following nice words about his opponent: “Each game is very interesting and always a big lesson for me. Probably it’s one of the reasons for our chess longevity: when you play such a great player so many times, it gives you so much experience and knowledge – it helps a lot!”

As so often, Ivanchuk played a rare opening set-up. With Black he went for the Chigorin Defence (1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6) and it took Gelfand a few minutes to decide on which line to play. In a position that looked a bit better for White, on move 22 a very nice piece sacrifice was found (and played instantly!) by Ivanchuk. After some wild complications White ended up with an extra bishop on h2 that was completely out of play, and there Black could force a perpetual check.

The last game to finish, between Teimour Radjabov and Vladimir Kramnik, was a Nimzo-Indian game that always looked fairly equal. “I think I got a very nice position out of the opening and it’s also very easy to play. I had this very simple plan of trying to attack these hanging pawns but of course White is also very solid. It might be equal and maybe it’s a matter of style, but I would take Black in this position, it’s easier to play somehow,” said Kramnik. The Russian was happy with his manoeuvres, and thought he was pressing. “But Teimour seemed to defend very well.”

Radjabov agreed that he got “nothing out of the opening". “I probably mixed up some things in the opening, how I got this position without the two bishops. It’s kind of a dream position for Black.” But the Azerbaijani managed to avoid serious mistakes, and so Black’s advantage was never more than symbolical.

After four rounds Aronian and Carlsen are tied for first place with 3 points while Svidler is the only player with 2.5. Kramnik and Radjabov are on 50% with 2 points, Grischuk has 1.5 points and Gelfand and Ivanchuk are still in last place, with 1 point. Wednesday, March 20th at 14:00 GMT (India time 7.30 pm) the fourth round will be played: Ivanchuk-Carlsen, Svidler-Gelfand, Kramnik-Aronian and Grischuk-Radjabov.


The FIDE Candidates' Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com.
Report by Peter Doggers

Photos by Anastasiya Karlovich

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

BBC Chess Video with Carlsen, Paulson

BBC presenter Ros Atkins takes on World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen in the studio and has a brief chat with London Fide Chess Candidates' organiser Andrew Paulson. The strongest tournament of its kind - the 2013 Candidates Tournament - is being held from March 14 to April 1, 2013, at the IET, Savoy Place, London. FIDE and AGON – the World Chess Federation’s commercial partner – are staging the event. The Prize Fund to be shared by the players totals €510,000. The winner of the Candidates will become the Challenger to Viswanathan Anand who has reigned as World Champion since 2007. The main sponsor of the Candidates Chess is State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic SOCAR. 

Film on Blind Chess: YOU can Help

Visually-Challenged Chess Players: Help Showcase Special Documentary to World Audience: Ian McDonald is a sports sociologist and documentary filmmaker. He has given a very special gift to Indian chess: his documentary 'Algorithms' on blind chess players!

ALGORITHMSIndia | 2012 | HDV | B&W | 109 mins
English, Hindi, Tamil, Odiya with English subtitles


In India, a group of boys dream of becoming Chess Masters, driven by a man with a vision. But this is no ordinary chess and these are no ordinary players. Algorithms is a documentary on the thriving but little known world of Blind Chess in India.

Filmed over three years, Algorithms travels with three talented boys and a totally blind player turned pioneer to competitive national and world championships and visits them in their home milieu where they reveal their struggles, anxieties and hopes.

Going beyond sight and story, this observational sport docu with a difference moves through the algorithms of the blind chess world challenging the sighted of what it means to see. It allows for the tactile and thoughtful journey that explores foresight, sight and vision to continue long after the moving image ends.

The documentary was praised in India and surely, it deserves a bigger international platform. The director and his team are now looking to secure an international premiere at a top film festival outside India. It had its World Premiere at the International Film Festival of India in Nov 2012. It was also a Film Bazaar Recommended (FBR) film at the industry event parallel to IFFI and screeners have been taken by visiting festivals. 





For this, the film needs to be regraded. The original picture grading was not done to a big screen projector. But this is expensive. Also, the teams wants to take the desired high quality outputs (HD CAM, DCP etc), which again are very expensive. McDonald's team has little time to raise funds. They have now decided to go down the crowd-funding route with a Kickstarter campaign. The target is £10,000 in 45 days. If they fail to reach the target they get nothing!

Would you like to support this very special chess documentary? Here is the Kickstarter Campaign link for 'Algorithms'. 


Crowd funding a project through Kickstarter is slowly becoming the most viable way for documentary filmmakers and now one-third of films that come to festivals are funded this way. In fact, the Oscar award for short documentary went to a Kickstarter film this year!

‘Developing Chess Talent’ ebook

Here's a special chess book in electronic format as well. ‘Developing Chess Talent’, comprising 256 pages, discusses creating a chess culture, coaching, training, organization and communication. Also included in this title are interviews with grandmasters David Bronstein and Jan Timman, as well as plenty of helpful and practical information. Authors of the book are Dutch psychologists and chess trainers Karel van Delft and IM Merijn van Delft. The book includes a foreword by GM Artur Yusupov with whom they have been collaborating for many years.

The ebook is available in pdf format. It can be accessed by e-reader, PC, tablet and smartphone. Cost of the ebook is 6 euro. It can be ordered via PayPal or bank transfer. The book is recommended for chess trainers by the FIDE Trainers Commission.

For more information and a downloadable preview, visit the website www.chesstalent.com. Also available at the website is a video of IM Merijn van Delft presenting the book in the Max Euwe Centrum in Amsterdam. 



Other free items available at the website include 32 training videos of IM Mark Dvoretsky and GM Artur Yusupov as well as articles about chess and nutrition, chess in primary schools, and the Chess Karate Kid sheets.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Candidates R3: Aronian in Sole Lead


Levon Aronian is the sole leader at the FIDE World Chess Candidates 2013’ Tournament after three rounds of play. On Sunday the Armenian grandmaster beat Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, who overstepped the time limit for the second day in a row. In what was a very exciting round, co-leader Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan lost to Russia’s Peter Svidler in a Sämisch King’s Indian. Magnus Carlsen of Norway beat Boris Gelfand of Israel with Black in 57 moves from the old Cambridge Springs variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Russian grandmasters Vladimir Kramnik and Alexander Grischuk drew a Grünfeld game in 35 moves. 
Two and a half hours into the third round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates’ Tournament a remarkable situation occurred: in all four games, between the two contestants there was a time difference of about an hour on the clock. Thanks to their preparation Peter Svider, Vladimir Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian enjoyed a big time advantage against Teimour Radjabov, Alexander Grischuk, Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk respectively.

In the case of Grischuk, however, this was nothing special. The 29-year-old Muscovite is the reigning World Blitz Champion and known for getting into time trouble quite often in his classical games. At the press conference his opponent noted that things could have been even worse. Kramnik: “At some point when Sacha was thinking, I was trying to compete with Peter Svidler, I mean, who would have more advantage on time!”

Their game started with the Fianchetto Variation of the Grünfeld. Because many moves were quite logical, Kramnik’s preparation went as deep as move 21, when he felt he had a slight advantage. At some point Grischuk had to give up a pawn, but his piece activity offered enough compensation. “Sacha played very correctly. I am not sure if I had any improvement on what I played,” said Kramnik afterwards.

Poor Vassily Ivanchuk lost on time for the second day in a row. The Ukrainian is known for his wide opening repertoire, and today he tried his luck with an opening that’s popular at club level: the Torre Attack (via a Trompovsky move-order). Levon Aronian responded well to his opponent’s aggression, and his wonderful 19th move gave him a big advantage. While his opponent’s clock was ticking away Aronian actually didn’t play that convincingly, but he won anyway.

“Today I just tried to play some creative game but probably for practical reasons it was a bad strategy. 31.c4 was a nice move but there I realised that even if he would start to give me material with every move I would still lose on time,” said Ivanchuk, who will in fact turn 44 tomorrow. Asked how he will spend his rest day, the Ukrainian replied: “I will try to completely not think about chess!”

Like Ivanchuk, Teimour Radjabov got in huge time trouble with only a few seconds left to make his last three moves before the first time control. The Azerbaijani did manage to reach move 40, but he failed to save the game. Just after the opening, his favourite King’s Indian, he needed to think a lot. Radjabov: “I was not so much surprised, but in general I forgot the lines I had seen there. I just mixed everything up.”

Svidler arrived in the press room both relieved and happy about how his opening went. He played the 5.f3 (Sämisch) variation and got exactly what he had prepared. “It’s very nice to get a position like this with also an hour and a big advantage on the clock. The game was mainly decided in the opening because I got such a huge advantage. The combination of the position I got and also the clock pressure that was on Teimour here, that together made his situation quite difficult.”

The chess fans were spoilt with yet another win at the end of the day. After two quick and uneventful draws, top seed Magnus Carlsen managed to beat Boris Gelfand with Black. In this game it was the Israeli who spent lots of time. “It’s a rare line, a very original position. The pawn structure isn't determined yet. I had to think about the best way to configure it,” said Gelfand.

With his last move before the time control (40.h5) he gave his opponent unnecessary practical chances, and when the queens were traded Carlsen’s two passed pawns on the queenside decided the game. “I’m very happy to win and now that Levon won his second game… it’s still early in the tournament but it’s good to keep pace,” said Carlsen.

After three rounds Aronian is the sole leader with 2.5 out of 3 while Carlsen and Svidler are in shared second place with 2 points. Kramnik, Grischuk and Radjabov have 1.5/3 while Gelfand and Ivanchuk are in last place with 0.5/3.

Monday, March 18th is the first rest day. Tuesday, March 19th at 14:00 GMT the fourth round will be played: Carlsen-Grischuk, Radjabov-Kramnik, Aronian-Svidler and Gelfand-Ivanchuk.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament is taking place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It is sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Games and information can be found at http://london2013.fide.com.

Report by Peter Doggers
Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich

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