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Saturday, April 13, 2013

RIP: Chess Legend Robert Byrne

RIP: American chess legend Robert Byrne. We have this sad news. World Chess Championship Candidate-1974 and US Chess Champion-1972 Robert Byrne is no more. His wife Ursula (Maria) Byrne announced late Friday that Robert Byrne passed away after a long illness, eight days short of his 85th birthday. The memorial service will be on Saturday, April 20, at 1 PM at Dorsey Funeral Home, 15 M Wilton Place, Ossining, NY 10562. Attendees are welcome. RSVP to ursula1732@aol.com. ( Also welcome are verbal messages that can be read out.)

Byrne's dear friend Anthony Saidy says, "Robert Byrne was a pillar of American chess. I would add that uniquely, in mid-career, Robert Byrne switched from the Queen Pawn to the King Pawn, tantamount to a Ford driver taking on a race car, or an internist learning brain surgery. It took him close to the summit of world chess. R.I.P. a great American player and a friend whose example taught me much."

Byrne represented the United States nine times in Chess Olympiads from 1952 to 1976 and won seven medals. He was the chess columnist from 1972 to 2006 for the New York Times, which ran his final column (a recounting of his 1952 victory over David Bronstein) on November 12, 2006. Byrne worked as a university professor for many years, before becoming a chess professional in the early 1970s. Read the complete Wikipedia entry on this great American chess player here. (Report via US #1 www.chessblog.com)

Bangkok Chess Open Begins April 14

The 13th Bangkok Chess Club Open Tournament will be played from April 14th to 21st in Pattaya, Thailand. The tournament is organized by the Bangkok Chess Club and the playing venue is 5-star Dusit Thani Pattaya Resort. (Left: Koneru Humpy leads India challenge). Top rated Grandmasters are Nigel Short ENG 2690 (last year winner), Levente Vajda ROM 2632, Jan Gustafsson GER 2621 (winner in 2011), Humpy Koneru IND 2597, Sune Berg Hansen DEN 2566, Jozsef Horvath HUN 2538, Zong-Yuan Zhao AUS 2537, Adam Horvath HUN 2509, M.R. Venkatesh IND 2501 and Attila Czebe HUN 2488. There are two groups of play: Open category for all players, and Challenger category for players rated below 2100 or unrated (ratings based on FIDE or Thai ELO ratings – other national ratings will be validated by the organizer). When registering, players must indicate in which group they wish to play. Both groups will be played using the Swiss System, with 9 rounds for Open, and 7 rounds for Challenger. For the pairings, a Swiss Manager program will be used.

Renova Group Grand Prix from April 17


FIDE and Renova Group of Companies have announced the third leg of the Chess Grand Prix series to be held from April 17th-May 1st, 2013 in Zug, Switzerland. The organisation of the event, at such a late stage, has been realizable thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Renova Group of Companies, states a press release. Arrangements have been made in Swissever Hotel in Zug. 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 in Zug
Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2793
Karjakin, Sergey RUS 2786
Caruana, Fabiano ITA 2772
Topalov, Veselin BUL 2771
Nakamura, Hikaru USA 2767
Mamedyarov, Shakriyar AZE 2766
Morozevich, Alexander RUS 2758
Leko, Peter HUN 2744
Kamsky, Gata USA 2741
Ponomariov, Ruslan UKR 2733
Giri, Anish NLD 2727
Kasimdzhanov, Rustam UZB 2709

GM Gata Kamsky has replaced GM Gashimov for the rest of the series.

Venue


The SwissEver Hotel Zug is a brand new business & leisure hotel offering 84 double rooms and 46 long-stay apartments of various sizes, along with a typical Swiss restaurant Swiss Chalet with authentic Swiss specialties. A bar & lounge where you can enjoy different cold and hot drinks is a further feature of the SwissEver Hotel. The hotel provides a traditional yet modern Swiss atmosphere, where guests enjoy a tranquil and pleasant stay. Modern conference rooms for successful meetings and its very central location in Switzerland make it ideal for leisure and business travelers alike. The rooms and suites come with a flat-screen satellite TV featuring pay TV channels, coffee and tea making facilities, a minibar, and a bathroom with a shower and/or bathtub and a hairdryer. Some units have a sofa and the studios and apartments feature a kitchen or a kitchenette. Laundry and ironing services are available as well, and there is also a gym on site. Private underground parking is available. The Lindencham Bus Stop is 50 metres away, and Cham Train Station is 2 km away.

Sponsor

Renova Group of companies is Russia's leading private business group that consists of asset management companies and direct and portfolio investment funds owning and managing assets in metals mining, machine building, mining, construction development, energy, telecommunications, nanotechnologies, utilities and financial sector in Russia and abroad.

Renova Group is a stakeholder and strategic investor in the leading Russian and international companies, including such world class companies as UC Rusal, Integrated Energy Systems, Oerlikon and Sulzer. Renova Group integrated direct investment funds and management companies operating in the energy sector (IES, Avelar Energy), real estate development (KORTROS), portfolio investments (Columbus Nova), telecommunications (Akado Group), chemical industry (Renova Orgsintez) and precious metals (Zoloto Kamchatki).

Renova Group invests in Russia, Switzerland, Italy, South Africa, Ukraine, Latvia, Kirghizia, USA and other countries. The strategy of Renova Group is targeted at the acquisition of assets in industries with a significant growth and consolidation potential.
The Group invests in large projects that extend an opportunity to control and engage in active management to create value and uses partnerships and alliances as an efficient tool to maximize the effect of joint investments. Renova Group is a participant in the UN Global Compact Initiative, a World Economic Forum (WEF) Industry Partner. In 2007 Renova Group became a signatory of the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative of the WEF (PACI).

Social investments charity
The corporate charity fund Renova was founded in 2007 for the purpose of implementing the policy of corporate charity and social investments of the Renova Group in the priority areas of the national development agenda in science, education, culture and arts, development of civil society and local self-governance institutions, environmental protection and sustainable development.
CEO – Olga V. Bashkirova

High Performance Sports
Elite sports as well as physical culture form an important part of the general culture of the mankind. Aspiring to sport achievements and overcoming one’s weaknesses people refine their ethical and moral values. Entertainment sport events are the most powerful factor for people’s solidarity and nurturing the aspiration to healthy and sporty lifestyle in the young generation.

The charity projects in the sphere of elite sports and popularization of healthy lifestyle supported by the Renova Charity Foundation include:
• Support of the Olympic national team of Russia in the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2008;
• Assistance in the organization of the 5th Military and Sports Forum, NPO Military and Sports Fund;
• Support of the project dedicated to the preparation of sportsmen of the Russian ski jumping and biathlon national team;
• Support of the project dedicated to the preparation of sportsmen of the Russian ice-skating national team;

• Support of the Krylya Sovetov team of the Russian Amateur Hockey League.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Neutral Venue Please, Carlsen to NRK

by Zainab Raza Undulusi



"In principle, I think it (World Chess Championship 2013) should be held on neutral ground. It has been the tradition in the past, and that is what seems most fair to me," says World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen. He was speaking to Norwegian website NRKThe Indian media has announced that the match will be held in Chennai this November. However, no formal confirmation has come in from the World Chess Federation (Fide). There is usually an open bidding for the match. 

Magnus Carlsen's manager Espen Agdestein, said, "It is strange that this time they should skip the bidding process. There is great interest in this game and now they have the opportunity to really get very exciting organizer cities. I find a 
deal under the table strange and silly."

He also told NRK, "This is not a neutral ground, and in addition it will be abnormal for Magnus to play in India, including different climate and food." 

Carlsen is still unsure of how much the choice of location will influence the outcome of the match. "I can not say anything until I have seen the playing conditions," he said.
Joran Aulin-Jansson, chess president of the Norwegian Chess Federation is also not thrilled by the news. He said the association stood by Carlsen's decision to play at a neutral venue. But, he said, if Fide approves Chennai, there is not much that can be done.

India is getting the opportunity to hold the match because they lost out on the bid last year (Ref: Anand vs Gelfand World Championship in Moscow, 2012)

Next week a representative from Fide will visit Chennai to assess the venue and speak with the Indian government and the Indian Chess Federation. Fide member Nigel Freeman says, there is no problem if the match is held in one of the finalists' home countries. "There have been games that have been held at non-neutral sites before... when Anand played against Veselin Topalov in Bulgaria." (Photo: Norwegian chess president, Joran Aulin-Jansson, believes such a big event like the World Cup match in chess should be put out to tender.Photo: Junge, Heiko / NTB Scanpix)

Meanwhile, we are yet to hear from Agon which is contracted to hold the complete World Chess Championship cycle.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

WCCh: Carlsen yet to Confirm Chennai

by Zainab Raza Undulusi in New Delhi


World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen is yet to confirm what the Indian media and chess association have already announced! World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand will get to defend his world title in his home city of Chennai this year from November 6-26. The Tamil Nadu government has agreed to sponsor the event.

The world chess body (FIDE) will finalise the venue after Carlsen agrees to it. If Carlsen wants to avoid playing Anand in Chennai, he will have to find a sponsor and a place who would out-bid the one put up by Chennai. Anand will be playing in India for the first time in more than a decade. He instantly welcomed the decision. All the Indian chess fans are jubilant about the decision. The announcement was made in the Tamil Nadu State Assembly on Monday morning. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa declared that her government would sponsor the match which is estimated to cost around Rs 29 crore.

“I welcome the Chief Minister’s initiative and interest in promoting chess in the country. It’s a high for Indian chess. I’m looking forward to playing at home. The dynamics of the match will surely be different for me playing at home. It will be a new experience but I’m ready for the challenge. Pressure will be there anyways. This, after all, is a World Championship match," Anand told the media.

India lost the World Chess Championship bid last year to Moscow for Anand's match versus Israel's Boris Gelfand. The AICF had time up to April 10 to submit its bid failing which FIDE would have opened up the bidding process. DV Sundar, a vice-president with FIDE, earlier secretary of the AICF, said the proposal had been submitted in time.

Anand, a five-time world champion, last played in India in 2000 when the World Championship was organised in Delhi and Tehran in a knockout format. Anand went on to win the title beating Alexei Shirov in the final in Iran. The Indian super Grandmaster has been the world champion since 2007.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Funny Chess Prank Video

Play the funny chess video below and enjoy your day. A DVD flies out of a computer and disturbs a game between two chess Grandmasters. A presentation of the Just For Laughs Gags.


Carlsen Wins Chess Candidates 2013


Magnus Carlsen won the FIDE Candidates' Tournament in London on Monday after a bizarre finish of what has become a historic event for chess. Both the Norwegian and the other leader, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, unexpectedly lost their game in the final round, and so they remained tied for first place and Carlsen won on the second tie-break rule: higher number of wins. This means that in the next title match, World Champion Viswanathan Anand will face Carlsen. On the last day Levon Aronian of Armenia beat Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan while Boris Gelfand of Israel and Alexander Grischuk of Russia drew their game.

A Hollywood blockbuster couldn’t have had a more dramatic scenario with the hero of the story going down just before the end, only to emerge as the winner after all. This is what happened in rounds 12-13 with Carlsen losing his lead to Kramnik on Friday and then recovering on Sunday, and it also happened in a thrilling final round. The Norwegian unexpectedly lost his white game against Peter Svidler, but because Vladimir Kramnik also went down against Vassily Ivanchuk, Carlsen won the tournament anyway. It was quite a fitting scenario for April 1st, except that this is what really happened!

The day started quietly with a draw between Boris Gelfand and Alexander Grischuk. Facing the Grünfeld, which he included in his own repertoire last year against Anand, Gelfand tried the 5.Bd2 variation. Grischuk was “surprised by 11.Bc4” but reacted well and about the position after 17.f4 he said: “White at maximum can get a very slight advantage but Black can get a winning position if something goes wrong for White.” Already with 18…b4 Black “more or less forced the draw”, according to the Russian. Joining the live commentary, Grischuk said: “I’m quite happy to finish my game early so that I can enjoy this!”


Then, the game between Levon Aronian and Teimour Radjabov finished in favour of the Armenian. “In general after the opening I got a big advantage and it was very difficult to play for Black,” said Aronian. Radjabov, who finally went for a proper King’s Indian – the defence with which he has had so many successes – managed to trap the white queen in the early middle game, but Aronian got two rooks for it and combined with the presence of opposite coloured bishops, his attack on the king was just too strong.

But, of course this last round was all about the other two games: Vassily Ivanchuk versus Vladimir Kramnik and Magnus Carlsen versus Peter Svidler. Because Carlsen was leading on tie-break, Kramnik basically had to outperform him in the final round to emerge as the winner: he needed a win if Carlsen drew, or a draw if Carlsen lost. It all went quite differently. Kramnik, playing black, got under serious pressure right out of the opening, while Carlsen didn’t get much of an opening advantage playing white.
To keep all options open, Kramnik played the Pirc Defence, and Ivanchuk responded with simple, healthy developing moves. However, the Ukrainian (again!) needed quite some time to make his moves in this game, so even though he was building up an advantage, the Carlsen fans weren’t sure at all about the situation. Would Ivanchuk lose on time again...?

Meanwhile, Carlsen himself was using lots of time himself – too much time. After making his 27th move, the Norwegian had only 5 minutes left for 13 moves, and 2 moves later his clock was down to 1 minute and 20 seconds. It was a situation Carlsen hadn’t been in before in all previous rounds! It must have been around this time that the home page of Norway’s biggest newspaper online, vg.no, crashed (like several chess servers) due too the high number of visitors trying to follow the games.

Carlsen only barely made the time control – he made his last three moves in about nine seconds, knocking over some pieces in the process and losing precious seconds there. After the dust had cleared, he found himself in a completely lost ending. Svidler had simply played an excellent game, while Carlsen had succumbed under the pressure and the tension. “I was trying to equalize and then Magnus perhaps overestimated his position,” said Svidler.

“I was spending too much time in the middle game on reasonably good moves but also on not too difficult moves. (…) I definitely overestimated my position. Additionally, I just couldn't calculate very well today and then you have to spend a lot of time, that’s the way it is. Obviously not as much time as I did, because it became a serious liability at the end, but it's not easy. From early on there were lots of things to calculate on every move,” said Carlsen at the press conference, while Ivanchuk and Kramnik were still playing.

Before leaving the press room, Carlsen asked whether he could get the position of that last game on the laptop that was available. By that time Ivanchuk had made the time control, and he had a winning position. Carlsen said: “I think this cannot possibly go wrong,” and right at that moment Kramnik resigned his game, and with it his fight for first place. Carlsen was congratulated by his manager and by Svidler, and immediately gave a few interviews to mostly Norwegian press.

Meanwhile, Ivanchuk and Kramnik arrived in the press room to comment on their game. “I had to play for a win, to burn bridges in a way, because of course I didn't think that Magnus was going to lose. I thought I got what I wanted at some point. It was an interesting position but terribly complicated. Somewhere around 20…Nhf4 I liked my position and then somehow I lost a bit of concentration because I didn’t know what to do,” said Kramnik, who also kept an eye on the other game.

“The problem was that Peter [Svidler]’s position was already promising but not yet so clear so I didn’t know what to do, whether to play for a draw… Somehow I got a bit lost between watching that game and trying to understand what I should do. Then I made a few awful decisions and I was unlucky that I had to make a tough decision on move 40, not 41.” In time trouble the Russian missed an important tactic, and then his position was lost. Ivanchuk agreed that the position was at some point drawish. “But I noticed that my opponent started to play a bit risky and he gave me chances.”
Carlsen then returned to the press room to answer questions in his new status as tournament winner. He said: “I never expected to lose and I didn't really have any expectations for the other game. That didn’t make sense to me since I couldn’t do anything about it. (...) I didn't really want to resign before I was sure that Ivanchuk would win!”

The tournament winner felt that until the 11th round he “played the best chess for sure”. “At the end everyone got tired, the quality got lower and anything could happen. But overall I think I did pretty well and I deserve to win.” Carlsen said he was “very impressed” by Kramnik’s comeback in the second half of the tournament. About his match against Anand, he said: “I think it’s going to be very interesting, a great event but it’s a long time ahead so we’ll see what happens.”


The final standings are as follows: 1. Carlsen 8.5 points (5 wins), 2. Kramnik 8.5 points (4 wins), 3-4. Svidler and Aronian 8 points, 5-6. Grischuk and Gelfand 6.5 points, 7. Ivanchuk 6 points and 8.Radjabov 4 points.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament took place March 14th-April 1st, 2013 at IET London, Savoy Place. It was sponsored by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and organized by AGON and the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

(Report by Peter Doggers and Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Candidates R13: Carlsen, Kramnik Lead

In yet another truly dramatic 13th round of the FIDE World Chess Candidates' Tournament Magnus Carlsen (Norway) caught Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) in first place. Carlsen, who ground down Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) in 89 moves, is now first on tie-break because of his higher number of wins. Kramnik had a promising position against Boris Gelfand (Israel) but couldn't get more than a draw. Alexander Grischuk (Russia) and Levon Aronian (Armenia) drew as well, while Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) lost yet another game on time against Peter Svidler (Russia).


In the 13th round “giant killer” Vassily Ivanchuk returned to his bad habit in this tournament of handling the clock terribly. It’s hard to believe but it’s true: the Ukrainian overstepped the time limit for the fifth time. It must be said that this time his position was lost. “It was a new experience for me. When he played 27…Rd7 he looked away, and after I played 28.a4 and pressed the clock, he lost about half a minute trying to figure out which move I made,” said Svidler.

The game was a French Advance, and the Russian grandmaster played concrete moves from the start. “If I do nothing Black will develop very naturally so I went 11.Bg5 and 12.Be3 asking questions with every move.” Then, on move 15, Svidler went for pawn sacrifice. It was “one of those moments” where he thought: “If I don’t play this I will kind of regret it forever.” After 23.Re1 he was “very happy for a while” until he realized that Black has 23…Nd6 there. Svidler then showed an amazingly complicated computer line which his seconds told him about after the game. “Good luck finding that. There’s absolutely no one who can find that out at the board!”



Ivanchuk didn’t spot it, again spent too much time and after White’s 37th move his flag fell. “I saw White’s ideas but I didn’t know what to do. From the opening my position wasn’t very comfortable,” the Ukrainian said. At the press conference GM Danny King asked him the question that needed to be asked: how can you explain to yourself the masterpieces you played against Radjabov and Carlsen, and at the same time losing on time in five games? Ivanchuk: “Everything has happened. I don’t like to focus too much on my lost games. I’d like to forget them as quickly as possible and soon start a new tournament.” On his game against Kramnik tomorrow, he said: “For me it’s not important, it’s just a normal game.”



Alexander Grischuk and Levon Aronian drew a Slav/Catalan in 38 moves. “I think I got a comfortable advantage out of the opening. Black has of course decent chances to equalize but he has to play very accurately because White has a positional advantage in the centre,” said Grischuk, who thought that Aronian’s 12…a5 was “very ambitious”. White got a nice endgame advantage with the bishop pair and more active rooks, but somehow Grischuk misplayed it. “White has to be precise and it will be long suffering for Black,” he said. A tactical phase followed and Aronian could save the half point. At the press conference Grischuk said that he did play for a win: “Of course I lost a big part of my motivation but it’s not every day that I can play against such a brilliant player like Levon!”

Moving on to the two key games of the round, Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand were the first to finish. This encounter started as a Fianchetto Grünfeld and the former World Champion came up with a new idea as early as move five – something that’s very rare in chess. “It’s amazing how many ideas he’s introducing, maybe more than all of us together!” said Gelfand. “At least I got a game, I got a game,” said Kramnik, who needed to keep all options open: going for a solid draw or playing for a win, depending on the developments in Radjabov-Carlsen.

After move 17 White seemed to have nice pressure and with giving up his dark-squared bishop Black appeared to be walking a tightrope. Kramnik: “One little mistake and everything starts to collapse!” About the position after 21.Qd3 he said: “Black cannot even create a threat. I think I’m clearly better, strangely enough.” The critical moment of this game was perhaps at move 30 where with little time on the clock Kramnik might have missed a stronger continuation. But, throughout the game Gelfand defended fantastically, and the Israeli fully deserved the half point he got.

About his game in the last round, against the unpredictable Ivanchuk, Kramnik said: “It doesn't matter with whom you play. The last game is the last game. I played many decisive games already, it doesn’t matter. I’m not nervous, I’m OK.”

For Magnus Carlsen the big question was how he would cope with what was his first loss since September last year. According to commentator IM Lawrence Trent the Norwegian’s strategy was basically “not to go crazy”. Against Teimour Radjabov, Carlsen played a rare line of the Nimzo-Indian in which he had to give up the bishop pair at an early stage. With simple developing moves Radjabov got a slight edge, but the Azerbaijani missed a tactic and Carlsen grabbed the initiative.

Avoiding further mistakes, Radjabov managed to reach an ending that was only slightly worse for him, and which should have led to a draw. However, as he has down so often lately, Carlsen just kept on trying and trying and eventually, after 89 moves, he managed to “squeeze water from a stone”, as one chess fan put it, and win the ending. Knowing that he was leading the tournament again, Carlsen entered the press room relieved and excited, doing a joyous and explosive high-five with his manager Espen Agdestein.

At the start of the press conference Radjabov put a smile on everyone’s face, including Carlsen’s: “I prefer to lose today than all my previous games because at least there is an intrigue in the tournament and it might be one historical loss for me!” Carlsen: “It was tough. I was really upset after the last game, I couldn’t sleep and I was not feeling so great today. I think I got a pleasant position at some point but then I couldn’t make any of it and then we got this endgame which is basically equal but I felt because of the tournament situation I have to try and take whatever little chance I might have. (…) Probably it was a draw right till the end, I don't know, I couldn’t calculate. But I managed to keep the game going and he made enough mistakes so that I could win. I’m back in the running and after my last game that’s all I can ask for!”

After thirteen rounds Carlsen is tied for first place with Kramnik. Both have 8.5 points, but the Norwegian has a higher number of wins. This means that Kramnik needs to outperform Carlsen in the last round to win the tournament. Aronian and Svidler are shared third with 7 points, Grischuk and Gelfand shared fifth with 6 points, Ivanchuk is seventh with 5 points and Radjabov is in last place with 4 points. The 14th round and final round will be played on Monday, April 1st at 14:00 BST with the games Carlsen-Svidler, Ivanchuk-Kramnik, Gelfand-Grischuk and Aronian-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/Pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich)

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