Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Aronian wins 2015 Sinquefield Cup

Lev Aronian has won the 2015 Sinquefield Cyp after a final round draw with Veselin Topalov. Going into the last round with a full point lead, Aronian put himself out of reach of the chasing pack after Topalov took a draw by perpetual. This lead to a few more draws with Carlsen, Giri and Vachier Lagrave all getting to equal second after halving out. The other player to join them was Hikaru Nakaumra, who beat Alexander Grischuk in a game that had a very interesting finish.
The win for Aronian seems to be a popular one, with most chess fans applauding one of the nice guys of elite chess (although most of the top 10 could be considered 'nice' these days). After a poor run of form over the last 12 months ot so, the win by Aronian adds yet another factor into the 'who will play Carlsen' question.

Nakamura,Hi (2814) - Grischuk,A (2771) [B51]
3rd Sinquefield Cup 2015 Saint Louis USA (9), 31.08.2015

Spring is here

Ah spring. For some people the 1st of September signals the return of warm weather (in the Southern Hemisphere), unless you happen to live somewhere like Canberra. Spring in Canberra is a bit of a trap, where the first 6 weeks are almost as cold as winter, then it gets windy for a bit, and then summer turns up 5 weeks early!
But because we adhere to a set of seasons that kind of make sense in London*, Spring also marks the return to outdoors play for Street Chess. Ignoring the fact that it is probably colder in the first 2 weekends of September than the last 2 weekends in August, Street Chess will once again be played in City Walk, Canberra City. My tip for people planning to play in the next few weeks, dress like Scott of the Antarctic. But if you cannot do that, be prepared to invest in plenty of mulled wine and hot chocolate.

(* I actually heard a suggestion on the radio this morning that Australia should move to a 6 season system, with the Winter/Spring crossover being called Sprinter!)

Monday, 31 August 2015

The queen versus bits

This mornings (Canberra time) round of the Sinquefield Cup saw a number of interesting games, with Aronian taking a full point lead after beating Nakamura, and Carlsen losing to Grischuk. At the bottom end of the table the Anand v So game was also interesting, with Anand giving up his queen for rook and piece. Despite materialistic chess engines thinking this was a bad deal for Anand, he did have plenty of weak pawns to target and the game ended in a draw.
Of ten the decision to make a trade like this depends on two factors. Either you hope to co-ordinate your remaining pieces, or you hope to target the weaknesses in your opponents position. If you can do both then the end result may be in your favour, but if you have one but not the other, a draw may instead be the outcome.
In the following classic game Richard Reti plays a Queen for Rook and Minor exchange, banking on his connected rooks and active minor pieces to provide him with play. He even gets some threats against the White King, but with Rubinstein is able to cover any weak points,the game eventually ends in a draw, as Black is clearly taking a repetition.

Rubinstein,Akiba - Reti,Richard [E68]
London BCF Congress London (1), 1922

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Andras who?

GM Simon Williams is a very witty and entertaining writer, as well as producing a large number of videos of his chess exploits. Often he will take on challengers on, recording both the games, and his running commentary. He seems to be a good sport about this, as playing and talking can often be quite difficult to do at the same time.
In one recent video however, he met his when paired against IM sendmeyourbestgames. At first Williams had no idea who he was playing, but even when he did find out, he still didn't know who he was up against. What he was unaware of, was the IM sendmeyourbestgames was in fact Canberra IM Andras Toth. That he was up against quite a strong player slowly dawned on Williams as he went down to two quick defeats. Even in the third game he was on the back foot for most of it, until Toth blundered into a mate, allowing Williams to at least finish with some dignity.
The video is quite fun to watch, and Williams was very gracious in his defeats. Apart from the comedy vale, they also contains a number of good tips on playing certain openings (The Dutch, not the Kings Indian, and the Dragon), and what to do, and not to do, when you are going down in flame.
There are a whole series of these clips btw and after you watch this one (embedded below) who might want to check out the clip of Williams playing the Bongcloud opening on a dare!

Your morning hack

From last nights Sinquefield Cup

So,Wesley (2779) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2814) [E99]
3rd Sinquefield Cup 2015 Saint Louis USA (6.4), 29.08.2015

Friday, 28 August 2015

Library Chess

A number of years ago Melbourne chess entrepreneur  David Cordover suggested that it should be a goal in Australia for every local library to have its own chess club. While undoubtedly a good idea, it hasn't really come to fruition, probably because Australia doesn't have the chess playing population to make it work. Of course this is kind of chicken and egg reasoning, as you need the players to support the club, and you need the club to support the players.
But every now and then there is the opportunity to draw on Library resources to have some chess activity. Kippax Library in Canberra is celebrating its 10th anniversary tomorrow (29 August), and they are running some chess activities as part of the celebrations.  If you are in the area (West Belconnen) feel free to drop in between 12 and 2 to play some chess, or witness a little bit of bullet between myself and all comers. Junior players are especially welcome, as the library is keen to organise a regular junior club, and tomorrow will help them gauge how much interest there is.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Aronian back in form

The last 12 months have been pretty lean for Lev Aronian, with a drop in form seeing him slide down the world rankings. However he has started the 2015 Sinquefield Cup strongly, and currently shares the lead with Veselin Topalov.
In the 4th round he played a smashing attack attack against Wesley So to record the only win of the round. The game is already being described as a classic, with Aronian finding play on both sides of the board. With So's king trapped in the centre, Aronian was even able to sacrifice a piece with no harm to his winning chances.
Just as it wasn't clear why Aronian was struggling in the last 12 months, it probably isn't clear why his form has returned. If *I* had to give a reason, it may be because I have stopped giving him the kiss of death by predicting him as a likely tournament winner.

So,Wesley (2779) - Aronian,Levon (2765) [E20]
3rd Sinquefield Cup 2015 Saint Louis USA (4.3), 26.08.2015