Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mas versus Mok goes into tie-breakers

This is without a doubt the best match in the series. For the first time, we saw a match that ended in a draw after four games. Both players won a game each and drew the other two.

The match now goes into tie-breakers. Two games of rapid chess will be played. If the result is inconclusive e.g one win each or both games drawn, then they play another two games of blitz. If this still cannot produce a winner, than they continue with sudden death blitz games. In sudden death, the first player to win will win the match.

A recap of the games:

Game 1
Mok plays an unusual Modern Defence which seems to catch Mas off-guard. Mas did not handle the resulting position and blundered a pawn and the game. 1-0 to Mok.

Game 2
Mok plays white and surprises with a main line against the Sicilian. He sacrifices pieces fearlessly but did not follow through. His 18.Kb1 is probably a mistake. Mas ends up with an extra rook for a couple of pawns. But just when it looks like Mok is a goner, Mas accepts a draw due to his time trouble. Mok leads 1.5-0.5

Game 3
Mok again surprises everyone with a different type of Modern. He gives up castling to exchange queens. In a critical position, he spends a long time to play a bad move (15...a5). Mas took control of the d-file with his rook and brought home the point.
Both players tie with 1.5 - 1.5 each.

Game 4
Mok returns to his tried and tested repertoire with 3.Bb5 against the Sicilian. However Mas appears the better prepared until he made a mistake with 15...Nh5. Mok capitalized with some tactical blows (17. Nb5, 18. Rc3) and almost looks like he has excellent chances to win. But a wrong move order (20. Nxa8 instead of 20. hxg3)saves Mas.

Both players tied with 2-2

Mok - Mas, Game 4 Commentary

Game can be replayed online at the bottom of the post

[Event "Malaysian Masters"]
[Site "DAT Chess Centre"]
[Date "2009.10.31"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Mok"]
[Black "Mas"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "B06"]
[Annotator "Liew,Jimmy"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+

As I expected, Mok returns to his main repertoire

Nd7 4. O-O Ngf6 5. Re1 a6 6. Bf1 b6

Next move will be Bb7 to pressure the e4 pawn. If white wants to play d4 later, he should play c4 now to answer Bb7 with Nc3. I think Mas is more familiar with this line. Mok usually encounters either ...Nc6 or ...Bd7.

7. d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4

Now black will play 8...Bb7 to which White can reply with 9. c4. The pawn on e4 cannot be taken e.g 9...Nxe4 10.f3 Nf6 11.Nf5 and the open e-file ensures that the d6 pawn will be re-captured.

Play might go 8...g6 9. Nc3 Bg7 10. Bg5 0-0 11. Qd2 with a Marozcy bind Dragon-like formation where white has managed to play c4. Black does not have a d5 break and will manoeuvre behind the black pawns. White will have a slight edge in space.

8... Bb7 9 Nc3

Looks like I am right and Mok is not familiar with this line. This is not good here. It will be hard to control d5 later.

9...e6 10. Bg5

It is better to play 10.g3 first. The light-square bishop needs to be on g2 to defend the e4 pawn.

10....h6 11. Bh4 g5!?

I do not understand this move. The bishop on h4 is doing nothing and in fact stopping white from the natural g3 move. Why chase it and weaken the king-side? True, it gains the e5 square for the knight but still...

11...Be7 and black is already ok.

12. Bg3 Ne5

When you say A you must say B. I bet the next move will be ...Rc8 "eyeing" the knight on c3

13. Nf3

It's hard for me to suggest any other moves. White's position becomes passive due to the king bishop on f1 and the weak pawn on e4. But surely this knight will not capture on e5? After ...dxe5 the d4 square will be under black's control.


I prefer 13..Nfd7 supporting e5. The queen on c7 is only blocking the c-file.

Looks like Mok has gone into another long think. The position is much easier to play for black than white. Maybe Bd3 and Qe2 and wait for black to make his intentions known.

14. a4 Be7 15.Ra3 !?

Strange move, does he intend Rb3?

15...Nh5? *

This is bad. Just 15...Nfd7 heading for c5 is natural and the best.

16. Nxe5 Nxg3 17. Nb5!

Mok finds the flaw in black's knight move. Now 17... axb5 18. Bxb5+ Kf8 19. Nd7+ Kg8 20.hxg3 Bc8 21. e5 Bxd7 22. exd6 Bxd6 23. Rc3 wins back the piece with advantageous position.

17...Qb8 18. Rc3!!

Just one move has changed the evaluation of the game. This last move is quite amazing. The b5 knight cannot be taken. 18..axb5?? 19. Bxb5+ Kd8 20. Nxf7 mate. Or 19..Kf8 20. Nd7 forks the queen.


This is the only move. Now 19. Nc7+ Kf8 20. hxg3 Bb4, black still maintains the material balance. 21. Nxa8 Bxc3 22. Nxb6 (threatens Nd7+ so black has no chance to take on e1) Qc7 23. bxc3 Qxb6. White has an extra pawn.

19. Nc7+ Kf8 20. Nxa8 Nxe4 21. Nxb6

White time: 25 minutes, Black time: 32 minutes. Mas can only hope to draw this game.
Mok went wrong with the early rook capture on a8. Perhaps he forgot that Nxc3 is attacking his queen.

21...Nxc3 22.bxc3 Qc7

23. Nd7 Kg7 24. Nxe5 Qxc3 maintains material equality. Black has two bishops but his king safety is an issue.

Position after 24...Qxc3 (Analysis)

23. Nd7 Kg7 24. Nxe5 Bf6 25. Nc4?

Pressure on the players must be tremendous. A wrong slip could be the end of their journey. 25. Qe2 was good. 25...Qxc3? 26.Nxf7!

25...Rd8 26.Qb1 Bxc3

The advantage has passed back to black as his king is now safe and he has the bishop pair. Time will also play a factor as both players should be down to less than 20 minutes now.

27. Rd1 Bd4 28. c3

The pawn cannot be taken. 28...Bxc3 29. Rxd8 Qxd8 30. Qxb7 wins a piece

28...Bf6 29. Rxd8 Bxd8

Mok has done a good job so far. Now 30. Qd3 will see him quite safe.


Nothing wrong with this either.


Now 31. Qb6! holds e.g 31..Bxc4 32. Qxc7 Bxc7 33. Bxc4 Bxa5 34. Bxa6 Bxc3 and opposite coloured bishops ensure the draw for white

31. Qb4 Bf6

I dont like this. Black can now activate his bishops. I wondor if Mok goes for this line:

32. Nb6!? Bxc3 33. Nxd5 exd5 34. Qb6 wins back the a6 pawn and most importantly removed the threat of the bishop pair.


Time is around 3.5 minutes for white and 8.5 minutes for black. It's going to be tough to hold this with this kind of time left. But I hope Mok can draw...then we get tie-breakers tomorrow!

32...Qc6 33.Kh1

Black will start pushing his king-side pawns to open up the white king. It is now or never!


Someone tell them to shake hands and start fresh tomorrow!


Come and get me...if you dare LOL

34... Qc6 35.Kh1 1/2-1/2
Yes! Whoohooo!

Mok - Mas, Game 4 (6:15 PM 31st October 2009)

Mas won the third game to level the match at 1 1/2 - 1 1/2. Mok won the first game and the second was draw with Mas a rook up for three passed pawns. Even though his material is winning, Mas accepted a draw due to insufficient time on the clock (apparently one minute left).

The third game was very interesting. Mok played an inferior opening, trading queens early with hopes of holding a draw. In a critical position (see diagram) he made a bad choice of move (15...a5). After that it was downhill all the way

What will happen in the fourth game? Mok will have white and will he be trying to win or just draw and take the match to tie-breaks? As I noted before, Mok's white repertoire is rather simple avoiding main lines. In the second game where he had white and tried to surprise Mas with a main line Sicilian, he did not do well in the opening, coming away with a rook down.

Note: Tie-breaks will be a two game rapid. If this does not produce a winner, then two blitz games and followed by a sudden death game.

Mas - Mok, Game 3 (2:00 PM 31st October 2009)

The third game will start at 2 PM today

Mas needs a win this round to stay in with a chance. Probably he will open with the queen pawn which he has recently switched to from the king pawn. Mok will continue with the MOKdern and it is up to Mas what kind of positions he wants to steer the game into. I do not think he will repeat the first game where he totally lost in the positions that resulted. My guess is the opening will be along the lines of 1.d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. e4 Nc6 5. Be3 e5. Mok has played this line many times before.

1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7

Mok signals that he is not going to repeat the line from Game 1. In fact he has never allowed any repetitions in all his games so far. Usually ...c6 is played first, because in the white square blockade variation, the black square bishop is not usually best placed on g7.

3. Nc3 d6

As expected.

4. Be3 e5 !?

Early ...e5 is quite unusual. Black offers to exchange queen at the cost of castling.

5. dxe5 dxe5 6. Qxd8+ Kxd8 7. 0-0-0 Nd7

The black setup is to play ...c6, ...Kc7. The e5 square is very important in this position. Black must be able to control this square otherwise his position will fall apart.

8. Bc4

In a short match, the player to first win a game is almost winning the match. In fact this happened in all the other matches as well. The loser never manages to level the score. Mok is going to play a safe game and allow Mas to take the risks. Every draw increases his probability of him winning the match. He very successfully use this strategy against Ooi Chern Ee.

8...f6 9. h4

White tries to create some weakness on the king-side by advancing this pawn to h5. But now he will not be able to play f4 later as this will seriously weaken his g4 square.

9...c6 10. h4

Threatens hxg6, Rxh8 and Bxg8. Black should play 10...Nh6 now.


Black tries to solve all the king-side problems at the cost of white square weakness. The black square bishop can be redeployed via f8 and c5.

11. a4 Kc7

White has the advantage but this is very difficult to capitalize on due to the blocked position. There is not much going on at the wings at the moment so he will try to double his rooks on the d-file as soon as possible. Later he will make a pawn advance on the queen-side to open that side for his pieces to penetrate.

12. Nge2 Nh6 13. f3

Now Black will play Bf8-c5. Black has a solid position and once he manages to complete his development, he will have no problems. But along the way he will have to watch out for and solve some tactical problems.

13...Re8 14. Ng3

I do not understand this move. The knight is heading for f5 even if it gets exchanged off. However this can wait, I would prefer to double rooks now. Black is going to play ...Be6 at some point and after exchanges on e6, the black rooks will not be organized and the best way to take advantage is with doubled rooks

14... Nb6 15. Bb3

Now 15...Be6 16. Bxe6 Rxe6 17. b3 (otherwise Nc4)Bf8 followed by Rd6 to exchange one rook effectively nullifying the advantage of control of the d-file.

White intends to put his knight on f5 and after the exchange, free the e4 square for the other knight. I forsee a minor piece ending , possibly with one rook on, that white cannot win despite the black weakness on f6.

It has been a while since the last move. Mok is really taking a long time for his next move. Really, this is not an easy position, he has to think ahead of the positions and pieces that will occur and which are favourable. Exchanging the wrong piece now or even getting move order wrong could be disastrous ten or fifteen moves down the road.


After such a long think, I do not feel this is the best black have here. This move rules out ...Be6 because after the exchange , white plays Bxb6 and follow up with Rd7. My guess is Mok wants to play Bf8-b4. But how is he going to solve the problem bishop on c8?

16. Rd3
It is definitely easier for white to find moves. Already he is ahead by such 40-45 minutes.

I think Mok knows he is in trouble now. His pieces have no good squares. Exchanges are not easy, some example of what can happen if he is not careful, 16...Bf8 17. Rhd1 Be6 18. Bxe6 Rxe6 19. Bxb6+ Kxb6 20. Rd7 Re7 21. Rxe7 Bxe7 22. Rd7 Re8 23. Nf5 Ng8 24. Nd1 and black is helpless.

16.. Bf8 17. Rhd1 Bb4

White can now take advantage of the d-file. 18. Bxb6 Kxb6 19. Rd8. Black may be lost if this happen.

18. Na2 ?!

Mas misses his opportunity. One thing I notice about him is that he is mostly thinking in strategic and positional and therefore misses simple tactics.


Even now, it is still not easy for black. He still have not solved anything. For example 19...Rd8 would lose to 20. Rxd8 Bxd8 21. Rxd8 Kxd8 22. Bxb6.

19. Nc3

Maybe Mok will be tempted with ..Bb4 again :)
According to Hairul's blog, Mok is left with 11 minutes to Mas one hour. I doubt if Mok can solve his positional problems with that kind of time. Mas will surely win this.

19... Nd7 20. Nf5! Nxf5 21. exf5 Nc5

21..Bc5 is not possible because of 22. Rxd7+ winning material. But now black is saddled with the bad black square bishop. This will be the cause of his downfall.

22. Bxc5 Bxc5 23.Ne4 Be7 24. g4 h6

White will exchange the light square bishop and go into a knight versus bad bishop ending. With the a-pawn still on a7 , this might be defensible but as it is , there are two weaknesses and this will cost the game.

25. Be6

Unfortunately black cannot play 25...Rd8 for tactical reasons. 26. Rxd8 Bxd8 27. Ne6 Bxe6 (27.. Bd7 28. Bxd7 Kxd7 29. Nxb7+) 28. fxe6 Be7 29. Nf5 and Rd7+

25... Bxe6 26. fxe6 Rad8 27. Rd7+ Rxd7 28. Rxd7+ Kc8 29. c3 Kb8 30. Kc2 Kc8 31. Kb3

Black is helpless and he can only wait to see how white wants to wrap this up.

31.. Kb8 32. Kc4 Kc8 33. Ng3

The other way will be to push the b-pawn to b5, force exhanges and penetrate with the king.

33... Bd8 34. Rh7 Rxe6 35. Rxh6

Black should resign now. The passed h-pawn is unstoppable

35.. b5+ 36. Kd3 Rd6+ 37. Kc2 bxa4 38. Rg6 Rd7 39. h6


Black resigns

Game can be replayed online below

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mok-Mas , Game 2

[Event "Malaysian Masters"]
[Site "DAT Chess Centre"]
[Date "2009.10.30"]
[White "Mok Tze Meng"]
[Black "Mas]
[Result "*"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4

First surprise. Mok rarely plays main lines

cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Nbd7 8. Qf3
Qc7 9. O-O-O b5 *

A main line of the Sicilian Najdorf is the second surprise. I guess Mok has been doing his homework, otherwise he will not venture into this

10. e5

This is going to be ultra sharp. Both players seem to have come prepared

Bb7 11. Qh3 dxe5 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. Qxe6+

This position looks very dangerous for black for example , 13...Be7 14. Bxb5 axb5 15. Nxb5 Qc6 16. Nd6 Kd8 17. fxe5

13.. Be7 14. Bxb5 axb5 15. Nxb5 Qc6 16. Nd6+ Kd8 *

There is one famous game which went

17. fxe5 Kc7 18. Qxe7 Rxa2 19. exf6 Ra1+ 20. Kd2 Qd5+ 21. Kc3 Qa5+ 22. Kd3 Qd5+ 23. Kc3 Qa5+ 24. Kd3 Qd5+ 1/2-1/2 Grischuk - Svidler , Sochi. But I doubt if Mas is satisfied with a draw after the first game

17. fxe5 Kc7

Another super sharp line goes 18. Qxe7 Nd5 19. Rxd5 Qxd5 20. Rd1
Qxe5 21. Nxb7 Qxe7 22. Bxe7 Rxa2 Nilsson, Sebastian - Hammer, Jon Ludvig ,Cappelle op 24th which ended in black winning

18. Kb1

Probably white is out of book already. This do not look as promising e.g 18..Bf8 19. exf6 Bxd6, black remains two pieces up

18... Bxd6 19. Rxd6 Qa4 20. exf6 Rhe8 21. Rxd7+ Qxd7 22. Bf4+ *

White has five pawns for a rook and open black king. Is it enough?

22.. Kc8 23. Qc4+

After 23...Qc6 it does not look enough. Black remains safe after 24. Qf7 gxf6! So Mas will make it 1-1 after all.


Idea, 24. fxg7 Qd5 forces queens off because of the attack on a2 square.

24. fxg7 Qd5 25. Qxd5 Bxd5 26. b3 Ra7 27. Rd1 Bg8 28.a4 Rxg7 29. g3 Re2 30. h4 h5

Mok might as well call it a day. Tomorrow another two tough games for both.

31. Rd3 Bh7 32. Rc3+ Kb7 33. Kb2 Bf5 34. Rc5 Bg6 35. b4 Rd7 36.a5 Be4

1/2-1/2 ???

Amazing. Maybe Mas is too short of time.

Live game below

Mas - Mok, Game 1 - Mokdern Triumphs Again

"Crouching Tiger" Mok takes the first game much to everyone's (I think) surprise. I never would have expected him to win with the Modern. Mok deviated quite early with the surprise 6...e6. Mas was probably not well familiar with the ensuring positions and did not seem to understand the situation. Allowing the black knight to come into c4 was a mistake. White got into a defensive formation and ended with a simple tactic which lost a pawn and the game.

Still, Mas managed to survive the middlegame with material deficit, but really the result could not be changed.

So Mok leads 1-0 and after a short rest, they have to face each other again. This time Mas will have the black pieces. We can expect a Sicilian with early Bb5 from Mok. And why not? His openings,though they don't look like much, have stood the test so far.

Come back in another half hour or so for game two.

Mas - Mok, Live Commentary

The 1st Semi-Final between Mas and Mok Tze Meng is now under way.

[Event "Malaysian Masters"]
[Site "DAT Chess Centre"]
[Date "2009.10.30"]
[White "Mas"]
[Black "Mok Tze Meng"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. e4 g6

No surprise here. As expected Mok goes with Mokdern

2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c6 4. f4

But this is a surprise to me. Mas does not normally play this line. I played this same variation against Mok in the DATCC League. Although I lost that game, I believe this variation is refuted. Perhaps he found the refutation as well? LOL

d5 5. e5 h5 6. Be3 e6

Another surprise. The white square blockade strategy involves playing an early Bg4 to avoid locking in the bishop after ...e6. Now black will get a bad bishop typical of French Defence. The bishop will instead come out to b7 or a6 after black plays the pawn move ...b6. Maybe Mok is afraid of Mas opening preparation :)

7. Nf3 b6 8. Qd2 Ba6 9. O-O-O

White already holds the edge. The plan is straightforward, he will play for the g4-f5 break. If black cannot create sufficient counterplay on the queen-side, he is doomed. I do not like this at all for black as his counter-play will prove quite slow.


Now white will play h3, g3, Rg1 and finally g4.

10. g3

Black has to get his counter-play going with ...c5, ...c4,... b5, ...b4 and so on.

Bxf1 11. Rdxf1 Nd7 12. h3 b5

After this move, black's counter-play is almost non-existent. Black is trying to plant his knight on c4 but this can be met with the simple b3. E.g 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. b3 a5 15. Rhg1 a4 16. g4 axb3. White does not worry about the opening of the a-file as he will retake with the c-pawn and defend his queen-side along the 2nd rank.

13. Rfg1

I am not sure what the idea behind this is. Preferably this rook should remain on f1 to support the f5 break.

Nb6 14. Bf2?!

This is just wrong. The bishop must stay on c1-h6 diagonal to support the f5 break. Mas seems afraid to play b3 which is actually the correct move to stop black's plan.

14... Nc4 15. Qd3 Qa5 16. Kb1

Mok now might castle on the queen-side. The position has some similarities to his third game against Ooi Chern Ee. Black will re-locate his bishop to a better diagonal with ...Bf8 either now or after castling queen-side

Bf8 17.Nd1 Rb8 18. g4 Rb6

As I suspected, white should not allow ...Nc4. Black has sufficient counter chances now. 19. Be1 b4 20. b3 Ra6 21. a4

19. Be1 b4 20. Bh4 Be7

Black has no problems now as white has not succeeded in getting the f5 move in.After 21. Bxe7 Kxe7, white might try to force matters with 22. f5 gxf5 23. g5 but black will have 23...Ra6! 23. Qb3 Ng4! 24. hxg4 fxg4 and the f3 knight cannot move because of the knight fork on d2.

21. Rg2?

I believe Mas must be quite short of time by now due to unfamiliarity with this opening line and the resultant positions. The move looks like a blunder. 21...Ra6 22. Qb3 Bxh4 23. Nxh4 hxg4 24. hxg4 Nxg4 and the rook is overloaded , 25. Rxg4?? Nd2+

21...Ra6 22. Qb3 Bxh4 23. Nxh4 hxg4

If white had captured the bishop on e7 on his 21st move, then the next moves will not be possible due to the pin on the h-file.

24. hxg4

I just been informed that both players have twenty-five minutes each, so Mas was not in time pressure when he blundered.


White is down a pawn and fighting to hold the game now. His knight is pinned on the h-file so the next move will be 25. Rh3. Black will also need to rescue his g4 knight so I predict 25...Rh5 26. Kc1 (guarding d2) Nh6

25. Kc1 Qxa2
This maybe a mistake

26. Qxa2 Rxa2 27. Kb1

Now Mas is hoping to draw e.g 27..Ra6 28. Rxg4 Nd2 29. Kc1 Nc4 (threatens mate) 30. Kb1 Nd2+ and so on.

My computer is showing me an unexpected winning try. 27... Nge3!? 28. Re2 Ra3! 29. bxa3 Nxd1 30. Rxd1 Nxa3+ 31. Kc1 Rxh4 and black has more than sufficient material for the exchange and can play for a win safely.

27... Nge3 28. Re2

Now the question is, did Mok see the above line or it's just a desperate move?

28...Nxd1 29. Kxa2 Ndxb2

Black wins another pawn but the problem with this line is that the white rooks gain activity. Possibly the h8 rook will be exchanged and white will put pressure on f7. It is much more difficult for black to play without the rook even given his material advantage. 30. Reh2 is best now.

30. Kb3 Kd7

Mok gives up the pawn but there is no mate after 31. Kxb4 Rb8+ 32. Kc3 Na4+ 33. Kd3 Nab2+ 34. Kc3.

31. Ree1 a5

It was not easy for Mas to resolve to take the pawn, I do not think it is possible to find the correct moves over the board within the given time. But now, black has a comfortable winning position.

32. Rb1

You cannot match the computer for tactics :). 32.. a4+ 33. Kxb4 Nd2! 34. Rxb2 Rb8+ 35. Kc3 (35. Ka3 Nc4+ forks) Ne4 and wins the rook.

No new moves for some time now. Maybe Mok has not spotted 33...Nd2

32... a4 33 Kxb4 Rb8 34 Kc3 a3 35 Ra1 Na4 36 Kd3 c5 37 Nf3 Ke7 38 dxc5 Nxc5 39 Kd4 Ne4 40 Rhb1 Rb2 41. Rc1 Rb8 42. Ne1 Rh8 43. Nf3 Rb8 44. Rab1 Rb2 45. Ne1 Kd7 46. Ra1 Rb8 47. Nd3 Rh8

Mok has missed his chance to end the game quickly. But his position is still very strong due to the advanced passed a-pawn. According to -->The Raj, both are short of time with around three minutes each. Can Mas save this?

48. Rh1 Rc8 49. Nb4 Rc7 50. Rh8 *

Due to the time pressure, Mok has lost much of the advantage, allowing white to activate his pieces. Still that extra a-pawn should count for something.

Computer indicates 51...Nb6 is winning now.

50... g5 51. f5 Nf3+ 52. Kc3 Nfxe5 53. fxe6 fxe6 54. Rg8 g4 55.
Rh1 Kd6 56. Rd8+ Rd7 57. Ra8 Rc7 58. Ra6+ Nc6 59. Kb3 Kc5 60. Nd3+ Kd4

Time trouble for both now.

61. Rh4 e5 62. Rxg4+ e4 63. Ra4 Rb7+ 64. Nb4 Nxb4 65. c3+ Kd3 66. Rxb4 Rxb4+ 67. cxb4
e3 White resigns

Game can be replayed online below

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Carlsen on Norwegian tv

I just read Chessbase report on Magnus Carlsen's appearance on a local Norwegian television program. It is really good, the interviewer has some witty lines but it's Carlsen's replies that really impresses me. This boy, who everyone reckons will be a future world champion, is so modest. I wish I had a son like this lol.

Some quotes:

Interviewer: When did you realize you were just super good at chess?

Carlsen: I don’t think I’ve ever used those exact words to describe myself.

And here they are talking about dress code during a game. Notice how tactful this boy is at the end:

Carlsen: Certain players – such as Topalov… He has worn colorful shirts deliberately. But in most tournaments, there’s some kind of a dress code.

Interviewer: How about way too much of a foul aftershave?

Carlsen: I haven’t experienced that.

Interviewer: You haven’t been around players who reeked?

Carlsen: Well, yes. But not like that.

Interviewer: Who was it?

Carlsen: I don’t wish to reveal that information.

Full Chessbase report here

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fischer's Photos: Remembering Rosendo Balinas

Among the Chessbase photos , I was drawn to two of them (reproduced on the left).

If I am not mistaken, Fischer's opponent is Rosendo Balinas. This Filipino grandmaster is probably not as well known as Eugene Torre. He holds the distinction of being the first non-Soviet to win a tournament in the then Soviet Union. This achievement was at the 1976 Odessa International Tournament where he went undefeated. There were many Russian and East European grandmasters playing such as Lev Polugaevsky ,Konstantin Lerner, Lev Alburt, Vladimir Savon , Jan Plachetka, Mikhail Tseitlin ,Istvan Bilek, Lutz Espig, Vladimir Tukmakov,Anatoly Lutikov and David Bronstein. These names may not be instantly recognisable today, but at that time they were very prominent grandmasters. Bronstein was a former World Championship contender whose book 1953 Zurich International Tournament is one of the best chess books ever in my opinion.

Balinas was a talented player but he did not enjoy the support of his chess federation due to his conflict with its president , Florencio Campomanes. This probably resulted in reduced opportunities from competing in international tournaments.

At the 1990 Asian Zonals in Jakarta, we conversed at length. I believe he was already suffering from some illness. He was very health conscious and kept asking me about Chinese herbal medicines and their use. In 1998, he passed away.

In the pictures Balinas is playing white against Fischer's Sicilian. I believe Balinas drew against Fischer and this is probably the game.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fischer's Photos

Chessbase just published some previously unknown photos taken of Fischer in 1967 when he visited the Philippines at the invitation of the former Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos. It really felt surreal looking at these pictures, a youthful clean shaven and good looking Bobby Fischer in his prime, ready to take on the world.

At the same time I felt sad at what he finally turned into. Compare these with the pictures of him in the years before his death with a full beard and drooping shoulders and tired looking eyes. I wondor what else he could have achieved if he had not made the choices he made. These choices finally lead him to a remote part of the world, where he ended his days. His final resting place outside a church in Selfoss, Iceland.

We should consider carefully the choices we make today, for tomorrow we do not know where it will lead us.

The photos were made into a video clip. You can view the full video clip here

It's Sofia!

The venue for the 2010 World Championship match between reigning World Champion Anand and his challenger , Topalov has been confirmed. The host country will be Bulgaria in the city of Sofia. I wondor how Anand feels about the match taking place in Topalov's home country. It certainly will give Topalov some psychological advantage.

There were two other countries bidding to hold the match, Turkey and Singapore. I was hoping Singapore would pull through. It's proximity means that I would be able to attend some of the games. Unfortunately, neither of them could provide the bank guarantee required by FIDE.

Bulgaria did not provide one either due to "technical reason". The Bulgarian Prime Minister presented a letter instead which I suppose is just as good. The prize fund is two million Euros. I am not sure of the details like how much goes to the winner and loser, but two million Euros is a lot of money. No matter how it is cut, even the loser will go home with a satisfied smile.

For this, all chess players have to thank Bobby Fischer, for without him, this kind of money might have been a dream. He was the first chess player to fight for million dollar prize fund in his 1972 match with Boris Spassky. At that time, most people thought he was crazy as this kind of money was never seen before in chess. Fischer should not only be remembered as one of the greats, but also one who really did a lot to alleviate chess to a sport with real money for the top players.

Happy Deepavali

I wish my Hindu readers a Happy Deepavali. Deepavali or Diwali is the Festival of Lights

May the Light always triumph over the Dark and Good over Evil.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Baby boy for Mas

Congrats to Mas Hafizul on becoming a new father to a baby boy. Its normal for your priorities to shift once you start a family. I hope Mas will continue in his GM quest as it do not look like any other Malaysian is going for it in the near future.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Carlsen wins Pearl Spring

As expected, Carlsen has won the Pearl Spring Tournament in Nanjing, China. Nothing unusual but he did it with, wait for this....two and half point over the rest of the field.What an amazing performance!

In the last round, he was already leading with two points. Playing Jakovenko, this phenomenal player went on to win instead of settling for a tame draw. To me, the most remarkable thing is how easily he did it. True, Jakovenko blundered a pawn on the 25th move in a fairly simple position. Carlsen continued to play very accurately to complete the route in 38 moves. The loss pushed Jakovenko to shared last place.

This was a 3002 rating performance for the Norwegian and likely to see him break through the 2800 rating barrier on the next list. Everyone else suffered due to the losses to him.

Tournament crosstable

Friday, October 2, 2009

Magnus the Magnificient

Magnus Carlsen is currently leading the Nanjing Pearl Spring tournament with an impressive 4.5/5, two points ahead of Wang Yue

The crosstable makes a very nice symmetrical picture.

The only player to win any games so far is Carlsen. What will happen in the second half of the tournament? Will Carlsen continue to dominate and will he be the champion and how many points will separate him from the second place? Or will Topalov make his trademark late surge to over-take Carlsen? Can't wait for the end.