New blog to go online on Wednesday!

BREAKING NEWS

Finally!  After weeks of tweaking and more than a few sleepless nights trying to figure out why things don’t work the way they are supposed to work, I have succeeded into getting my new blog all set up. It should go online tomorrow.  Stay tuned for the precise address.

While I have been quite satisfied with this WP.com website, its limitations have been frustrating.  The lack of pgn-viewer capability, for example, has limited the kinds of chess material that I would have liked to have presented. The new website will make use of atleast 2 pgn-viewers!

The new website will also be very plug-in friendly, allowing me to present information in various formats–especially with respect to advanced galleries–easing access to links and videos.

Thankyou for your patience.

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Mark Dvoretsky RIP

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Mark Dvoretsky (9-12-1947 to 26-9-2016)

Sad news today of renown Russian chess coach Mark Dvoretsky’s death.  Age 68. Dvoretsky was also an acclaimed author, having written more than 20 books, all of them popular.

I have most of them, and just this spring I started to read his latest series (For Friends and Colleagues)-not really anything chess-instructive about them–but that recount how Mark got into chess coaching when younger, and of the personalities that he met along the way.

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I first met Dvoretsky at the 1985 Candidates Tournament in Montpellier, France where he was the official trainer of both Artur Yussupov and Alexander Chernin.  Four years later, in 1989, when I was playing Yussupov in the Candidates Matches in Quebec City, I had a better chance to get acquainted with him.

Two episodes stand out, even today, of that Quebec Match.  The first is that Dvoretsky needed a computer to access his files, but in 1989 it was against the law to rent or sell a computer to anyone Russian(!), and not knowing how to solve his little problem, he approached my team.  We rented a computer for him for the duration of the event!

The second episode is quite funny, and reveals Dvoretsky’s real nature, his humility and his warmth as a human being. Yussupov and I had drawn our first game, and I won the second game…the ending was REALLY crushing! (Yussupov had a rest day and then came back and levelled the match in the third game. After 8 regular games, the match was 4-4.  I lost the rapid tie-break game, and Yussupov advanced to play Karpov in the next stage of the Candidates)

ANYWAY, after the closing ceremony in Quebec City, Dvoretsky and Yussupov pulled me away for a few moments and gave me the following picture that they had taken in their hotel room after my crushing victory in the second game:

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The photo shows the final position where Yussupov resigned, and the stuffed figure (red) shows how Yussupov and Dvoretsky felt! The photo also is indicative of the quality of Dvoretsky as a coach: it is never easy to deal with a defeat, but he managed to get Yussupov to see it as something other than a tragedy.

I will miss Dvoretsky.  My condolences to his family.

 

Murder she wrote…

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English Chess boring?  Not on your LIFE!  If it is not Ray Keene brazingly plagiarizing everything within arm’s reach at the British Library, or Nigel Short merrily pestering the opposite sex in the international media, then you can be sure that there is always some juicy news-worthy item to be found elsewhere in English Chess…

This week’s skeleton in the closet involves the arrest of a recent ECF president, CJ de Mooi, allegedly for murdering a stranger back in 1988 when a down and out CJ dredged out a low-life existence as a sex worker in Amsterdam. (No one can make this up!)

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From a 2015 interview that CJ gave to the English media.

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Happier times.

Baku: why the US media doesn’t care.

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It has been a full week now since the Baku Olympiad ended. The victorious US team won its first gold medal in almost 80 years, an achievement that was as brilliant as it was deserved. (My apologies to Kavalek, but except for historians, few consider the 1976 Haifa Olympiad a real Olympiad given the USSR and the Warsaw-pact countries boycotted the event, as did all of the Arab world). 

Many of us expected that the US winning team would be welcomed as national heros when they returned to the US. That they would appear on CNN, have a parade thru Times Square. Maybe even invited to the White House…

But this was NOT to be the case. Instead, this past week has been a NIGHTMARE for American Chess:

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(click on image for link)

In the week since their victory, except for the above controversial news item and some reporting in and around St.Louis, NOT A SINGLE major US news service has even carried the victory. Only dedicated chess-sites or regular chess-columns mentioned the US victory in Baku. Unbelievable!  Had I not seen with my own eyes, I would have thought this could have never happened.  But it did…

Is the US media afraid of Trump?

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Trump has made the 2016 run for the White House all about immigration.  What is more, his hardline views on what today is American and what is un-American are gaining ground as the election campaign nears its end. Polls show that Trump is neck and neck with Clinton.  And it very much appears that the mainstream US media is trying not to provoke Trump’s obsession with immigration.

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Below are a but a few clickable news articles that indicate what I am talking about with respect to the media’s changing attitude with respect to immigration. They are taken from http://www.mediamatters.org.  The last two, in particular, show how a number of media chains might actually be getting onboard Trump’s campaign.

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The 2016 US election is going to DEFINE America for a long time to come.  Especially, it is going to define America’s attitudes with respect to what is and what is not an American.  As a Canadian, I am repulsed with such growing racist views and and racial stereotypes.  Clearly I do not agree with them!  I find such thinking scary…

BUT it is not for me to decide. What only matters is how the American people PERCEIVE what is an American or not.  About what is American and what is un-American.

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As a chessplayer, I am shocked at how the US team that won in Baku is COMPLETELY IGNORED by the US media.

Now the question is to see how (or if) the US media covers the upcoming world championship match in NYC between Carlsen and Karjakin…

BREAKING NEWS!!!

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Just some breaking news from Baku, where the USA and Ukraine tied for first place in the Olympiad, but the USA won on tiebreak, taking the GOLD!  (Ukraine: Silver; Russia: Bronze)  Congrats to all!!!  More later when I write at greater length!

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Most of them anyway!  I don’t see Lesiege or Krnan, but maybe Lesiege is holding the camera (and Krnan is holding Lesiege!?) But joking aside, STELLAR performance!!!!

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Baku Olympiad (Part I)

Olympiad off toPISS POOR’ start!

The Baku Olympiad got underway yesterday amidst poor reviews in the international press, which rightly focused on the Orwellian press controls as well as numerous cases of ABUSE OF AUTHORITY on the part of some arbiters who insisted on getting written requests from players when ever they needed to visit the toilette for basic needs.

Official protests were registerd by the Captains of both the English and Hungarian teams, and hundreds of players signed a petition to stop this outrage.

The first round was also delayed because of the (planned) visit by the president of Azerbaijan, whose fully armed security team would not allow any photos taken by anyone. Under threat of immediate arrest and expulsion from the country, no doubt.

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The scandalous treatment of journalists is well documented by Peter Doggers at Chess.com: HERE.

The Norwegian journalist Svensen  was quick to point out that Azerbaijan has one of the worse Freedom Of Press records in the world, ranking 163-rd of 180 nations, just slightly ahead of Lybia and Saudia Arabia, two of the most repressive dictatorships in the world.

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Azerbaijan also has one of the worse Human Rights records in the world, and in recent times has been singled out for increased repression of critics.

One must ask on the wiseness of the decision of FIDE to award such an important event to a country with such a poor record.

Apart from this, the particpants seem to be otherwise enjoying the tournament. So far. Conditions are considered more than adequate, by normal FIDE standards.

Sants Open: Chinese emerge on top

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SOME INTERESTING CHESS FROM LAST ROUND:

 

CURIOUS ENDING

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Position after 30 moves. An unusual piece configuration.  Usually one finds this kind of ending with only 1 Rook on the board. (In which case, if the defender has no pawn weaknesses, as the case here, then then game should end in a draw. Normally the side with the Queen has winning chances only when there is just one pawn difference.)

One would think that the presence of an extra Rook on the board would be to Black’s favour (increasing his chances), but in the game here the result was a solid, almost effortless draw.  Do any of my readers have some information on this curious ending? I would like to hear from you! Endgame Theory would like to hear from you…

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BRUTAL AWAKENING!

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Board number 5.  A must win situation for both players. Position before Black’s 20th move.

Earlier, Black made an interesting (and typical) pawn sacrifice on the Kingside (trying to get some initiative), but it was not quite convincing, but then it appears that White convinced himself that by simplifying things (ie. changing some pieces) would leave White simply better. Here the Armenian IM must have felt that after Ng3, Re3 and Qe2 he would be a pawn up for nothing…UNFORTUNATELY, his thinking was not dynamic enough….

20…Rxf2!!

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Surprise!  All of a sudden White is DEAD LOST.  This move allows the Black Queen to come into play with check, and then the Rook comes into play along the f-file. White finds himself unable to prevent disaster. (For the record, the final moves were 21.Kxf2 Qh4+ 22.Ng3 Qd4+ 23.Re3 Rf8+ 24.Ke1 Qxe3+ 25.Qe2 Qg1+ 26.Kd2 Qd4 27.Ke1 Bg4 28.Qg2 Qe3+ 29.Ne2 Bh3 0-1)

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SASIKIRAN ON FIRE!

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Sasikiran’s last round game saw the Indian superstar play with great energy and creativity, not backing off from risky play.

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Position after 14 moves. Something seems to have gone wrong with Black’s opening. His King is still in the centre, and the pawn structure clearly favours White’s pieces.

I am not sure what the best way for White to proceed is, but there is no doubt that at some point White will want to play f5.  The only question is how much preparation should be involved in this task.  I am certain that positionally inclined players like Karpov and Korchnoi would slowly prepare f5, confident that Black’s lack of counterplay on the Queenside must eventually lead to his downfall…

HOWEVER, Sasikiran has a very tactical style of play , much more inclined to the Tal-school of chess tastes, and for this reason he would not even consider preparation:

15.f5!?

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One can not get much more direct than this!  White forces open the f-file even at the cost of a piece. In essence, the move is quite sound and poses pesky practical problems for the defender.

15…exf5 16.Nxf5!

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16…gxf5

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Black has no good alternative than to take the piece.

Here I believe that the most precise way of executing Sasikiran’s idea is the immediate 17.Qh5!. Then if 17…Qe7 (as in the game, and probably the only good move here too) 18.Bh3!? preventing the manoeuvre that occured in the game (Qe6-g6), as 18…Qe6(?) is met by the crushing 19.Bxf5.

So that leaves Black to decide what move to make on his 18th, and it is not clear to me what is best. Very unpleasant after 18…000 is 19.Bg5!, and no different would be 18…Bg7 19.Bg5!. That appears to indicate 18…Rg8!?, but this move is not very constructive as after 19.Rxf5 Qe6!? (what else?) 20.Bg5! Qg6 21.Qf3 with 22.Rf1 coming in with great force.  Black is in serious trouble…

HOWEVER, in the game Sasikiran played the obvious move…and the game quickly proceeded:

17.Rxf5 Qe7 18.Qh5

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White intends to mobilize his remaining pieces and double on the f-file. Clearly White has compensation, especially as Black has practical difficulty in developing. The theoretical question, however, is whether this compensation is enough for advantage…

18…Qe6!

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An excellent manoeuvre, difficult to find over the board. Black intends to play Qg6 and try to push back White’s Queen.  Had White played what I recommended at move 17, then Black’s Queen manoeuvre would have not been possible.  (However, this is easy to say AFTER the game!)

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19.Bh3!?  Qg6 20.Qf3

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Black should not now castle as 21.Rxf7 or 21.Bg5 is very unpleasant.

20…Be7! 21.Bd2

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It is a tricky position, not easy to play in practice, but Black seems to be surviving (but no more).  Here the computer finds the subtle 21…h5! (ruling out any Bg4-h5 manoeuvre) and after 22.Rf1 Rf8! and the game is unclear (if 23.Rxh5 Qe4 does not change the evaluation)  It is also not clear how White should proceed….

INSTEAD,  possibly short of time and under great psychological pressure, Black blundered by castling long: 21…000(?) which loses immediately: 22.Rxf7! Rhe8 (did Black intend 22…Rhf8? (23.Qc3+!)) 23.Bf5! Qg8 24.e6! and it is all over. Black resigned a few moves later.

An interesting fight.  Typical of last round money games, where nerves, courage and the clock determine everything.