Monday, November 17, 2014

Carlsen-Anand: An unnoticed blunder

The FIDE World Championship is taking place in Sochi from November 7 to 27. World Champion Carlsen is challenged by former champion Anand.

Carlsen won the sixth game and he described it as "very, very lucky". On his 26th move, Carlsen committed a serious blunder which would have lost a pawn for nothing. His opponent thought for a minute and missed it!

After 26 Kd2

Carlsens' move allowed 26...Nxe5 winning a pawn since 27 Rxg8 black plays the in-between move 27...Nxc4+

Carlsen now leads with 3.5 points to Anand's 2.5 points.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Carlsen-Anand: Let the draws begin

The FIDE World Championship is taking place in Sochi from November 7 to 27. World Champion Carlsen is challenged by former champion Anand.

Both games four and five were drawn without much of a fight.

In game five last night, Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi replaced Sopiko as co-commentator. And what a difference it made. The very strong grandmaster could rattle off analysis like a bullet train (in constrast with Sopiko who 90% of the time would keep agreeing with Svidler), punctuating it with humorous banter. Both Nepomniachtchi and Svidler seems to be fans of the Lord of the Rings movie as at one point both started making quotes from the movie! Very entertaining and I hope more such guest commentators will be forthcoming.

Carlsen appeared to know his openings very well, rattling off moves at blitz speed. Anand whowever got a slightly better position with a superior bishop against a knight although the position was too simple to cause any problems for Carlsen. However Carlsen's strange decision to capture a pawn on move 22 was baffling. Carlsen could have ended in a slightly worse ending. However Anand did not play the better 27 Ra4, which would have kept the queen-side pawns and maintain a nagging edge. Instead he quickly went into mass exchanges and ended in a drawn rook ending. Disappointing  decision from Anand.

Game six continues today.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Carlsen-Anand: Strike back by Anand

The FIDE World Championship is taking place in Sochi from November 7 to 27. World Champion Carlsen is challenged by former champion Anand.

In the third game, Anand showed better preparation to beat Carlsen. The amount of time spent on the opening by Carlsen definitely indicated that Team Carlsen had not paid enough attention to this opening variation. You know Carlsen knows he is in trouble when he spent 32 minutes on 17...Ndf6.

The opening was a Queen's Gambit Declined which seemed much better for black in Aronian-Adams, Bilbao 2013. However Anand and his team found a better continuation for White with 20 fxe4 (Aronian played 20 Qe2 instead). By forcing the exchanges, White could capture a pawn on a4 with the queen still on d1. A simple enough idea that rewarded Anand with his first win against Carlsen in a slow game.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Carlsen-Anand: First Blood

The FIDE World Championship is taking place in Sochi from November 7 to 27. World Champion Carlsen is challenged by former champion Anand.

Game one was a draw while game two played last night resulted in a first victory for the World Champion.

Anand played 1...e5 to Carlsen's king pawn in the opening and offered the possiblity to enter a Ruy Lopez Berlin. Carlsen was not having any of that as the Berlin is the toughest variation for White to crack in a Ruy Lopez. Carlsen played 5 d3 entering quiet waters. But the dangers for Black were there as Carlsen played a series of moves starting with 12 Nxb6 and 13 d4  that showed White's initiative on the king-side was not to be underestimated.

I was following Svidler and his partner Guramishvili commentary at the official site. They did not think that White's attack was so dangerous although Anand's 18...Be6 was puzzling as two moves later he had to exchange it for the knight on f5. It is still quite surprising how difficult Black's position was in the major piece ending. Anand's blunder at the end even though he is quite lost by then, is quite ominous for his chances and reminds me of his many blunders in last year's match.

Today is a rest day so game three will continue on Tuesday.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Carlsen-Anand: First draw

Anand came out with an interesting idea (13 0-0-0)  and got Carlsen thinking right out of the opening. At one point, Carlsen's clock was half an hour behind Anand.

The World Champion showed his strength and skill when he managed to diffuse Black's initiative. He even got the better of the resulting ending of Q+R v. Q+R. Anand defended very well and  drew by perpetual. But as Carlsen admitted in the press conference, he did not think he was winning in the endgame anyway.

The first game is thus drawn and some interesting observations can be drawn here. Anand is trying to score as early as game one, a stark difference from the first match where he was content with drawing games in the early stages of the match.  He knows that a prolonged match is not to his advantage, being the older player.

Anand showed better preparation and might have scored against a lesser opponent. Carlsen is such a tenacious player that even when he is caught off-guard is able to find the best moves over the board.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Carlsen-Anand starts tonight!

The "return match" between the current World Champion and challenger Anand will begin shortly. It is not really a return match (which is why it is in quotes), but Anand emerged as the challenger by winning the latest Candidates Tournament.

I am very surprised how low key this match is compared with the 2013 match. If I were not looking forward to this match to start today, I could easily overlook it. Could it be because it is held in Sochi (in Russia in case you are not familiar with this city) at quite short notice?

Anand looks like he is in top form. After winning the  Candidates convincingly, he next topped Bilbao. Carlsen seems not really in his best form, but what should be worrying to Anand is that even when not at his best, Carlsen is doing very well against the best in the world. Carlsen came second in the 2014 Sinquefield Cup where Fabiano Caruana blew away the field to take first.

My personal favourite to win is Carlsen. Anand is a great player and the fact that he is facing Carlsen again attests to that. But to me, Anand is the past and Carlsen as returning champion is better for the future of chess.

I am also very pleased to learn that Peter Svidler will be doing commentary with assistance from WGM/IM Sopiko Guramishvili. GM Svidler is a very entertaining chess personality with excellent command of English. For the live video go here.

The first game will begin shortly at 8:00 PM (Malaysian time).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Two tie for first in World Senior

The World Senior Championship concluded in Katerini, Greece yesterday. In the 50+ event, there was a two way tie for first between GM Zurab Stura and GM Keith Arkell with 8.5 points from 11 rounds. Top seed GM John Nunn finished in sole third with 8 points.

Malaysia had two representatives in Lim Kian Hwa and Ismail Ahmad. I was supposed to be the third but I decided to pull out to concentrate on other matters. Lim Kian Hwa had the best result with 5.5 points (beating Ismail in their individual encounter) and finished in 28th position. Ismail Ahmad was in 31st position after scoring five points.

The 65+ event was keenly contested and no less than four players tied for first with 8 points. GMs Anatoly Vaisser, Yuri Balashov, Victor Kupreichik are the well known players from yester-years and they were joined by the Brazilian IM  Herman Van Riemsdijk.

25 players took part in the Women's 50+ and 65+ event so they were pooled together into one tournament. Russia's Svetlana Mednikva was the overall champion with 8 points while the former World Champion Nona Gaprindashvili was second was second.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Reminisces from the past

My regular readers would have been aware I have not been active in this blog in the last few months. Besides preparing for the Malaysian Chess Festival and other personal matters I had another project. This is a book that I was writing. The publisher's dateline was near and I had only done something like 40% of the book in the last two months I spent most of my time to complete it. More about this when the time is right.

Anyway, during my book research I was digging through my old stuff which consists of newspaper clippings, old score sheets, magazines, tournament bulletins and things like that.

I still remember the day long ago when I was first taught the game. Later a cousin told me that a game of chess could be recorded and replayed over and over. I can imagine the incredulous look on my face at the moment. Games that we played, games I won and lost were gone like fragments of a memory. But they need not be!

We went down to the bookstore to look for chess books. At that time (Penang in the early 70s) , if you wanted any book you went down to The University Book Store which had the largest collection of books on any subject. My first book was a book on the Spassky-Fischer match. From this book I learnt the chess notation using English descriptive notation which the majority of books used in this time period. So my early games were all recorded using this system. In the late 70s, I had big debates with Joseph Toh on the merits of the English against algebraic notation (he being a proponent of the latter).

From this scoresheet on the left, you can see I eventually adopted the algebraic notation. Some interesting observations from this scoresheet. The event is "Subang Parade Active Chess". Active chess is the precursor to rapid chess and I believe was mooted by Dato Tan Chin Nam. Somewhere along the line, the name was changed and it stuck.

The strange language on the score-sheet is Greek. The organizer, Christi Hon, had simply taken the score-sheets from the 1984 Thessaloniki Olympiad and changed the title and made copies.

I used to record the times taken by each player. As you can see, Chin Seng took less time than me. My final score was 5.5/6 which probably won the tournament.

Most interesting is the notation that I used. All pieces are correct except for the knight which I used to record with the letter "S". This was the period when my reference books were German ones. The German word for knight is "springer" so the knight is written with an "S" in German notation. Why did I still use the English name for the other pieces? I think it is because the letters "K" and "N" are quite similar (especially if you scribble like me), so I substituted "S" for the knight. I have since switched back to using the English "N".

Below is a scan of Quah Seng Sun's chess column in The Star about the Selangor Open tournament for 2006, one of the many newspaper clippings I used to collect.